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Wednesday 31 January 2018

Tory Marginal MP Insults Her Voters

The Thurrock constituency is one of the most marginal in the UK: Tory MP Jackie Doyle Price has held the seat since winning it from Labour in 2010, but her majority has gone from 92 to 536 and back to 345. So it might be thought that she would take special care not to get on the wrong side of any significant group of constituents. But, it seems, that thought would have been misplaced when it comes to the Taxi trade.
Jackie Doyle Price

A significant number of London’s black cab owners live in the area: this may not be unrelated to the lower cost of housing, and easy commuting distance to London’s new financial district around Canary Wharf. With this in mind, Ms Doyle Price was reminded via Twitter that she had quite a few cabbies on her patch. Would she be writing to them following the revelations on how Uber’s path to an operator’s licence was smoothed?
Moreover, would she be taking the matter up with the Government - of which she is a member - on their behalf? With a majority of just 345, and Labour looking to capitalise on the Tories’ dwindling popularity, especially in London and the Home Counties, it looked like a win/win for her. Sadly, though, Ms Doyle Price chose not to engage with the Taxi trade, but to suggest they run along and talk to someone else instead.
Cabbies have many good reasons to lobby their MPs at present, not least the Uber saga, and the associated question of tax relief on fuel, which may be being allowed disproportionately to Uber and similar operators. So their disappointment, typified by one Tweeter who observed “We were naive to expect our elected representative to take up arms on our behalf”, was understandable. Ms Doyle Price’s reply was not.
I have given you the best advice I can. Your time would be better spent following it than trolling me”. Er, hello? Mark White was unimpressed. “Do you really think it’s acceptable for the PM’s advisor to tell @TfLTPH to ignore safety regulations in favour of Uber, whilst your taxi Driving constituents (who you call trolls) watch their livelihoods get decimated?
This fell upon stony ground. “I have advised all my constituents who I know to be cabbies with by letter. I have tackled uber, TfL and DTP. Your fight is not with me”. No-one was asking for a fight, merely that their elected representative be in their corner. White pointed this out to her. “We’ve a number of @The_LCDC members who are your constituents. They have written to you asking for a Public Inquiry in to the pressure put on @TfLTPH & sent us your template reply. Is that your best advice: ‘Go to the [Police]?’
Did she think it might now be wise to reconsider her stance? Well, not as such. “And they have all had a reply from me giving my best advice. Not the best tactic to pick a fight with someone who is trying to help you”. So that’s a No, then.
It’s one of those occasions where you have to pinch yourself. This really is the response of an MP with a majority of just 345, taking an offhand and dismissive attitude to a trade whose members, and their families, make up a significant part of her electorate.
What happens at elections when you diss your voters

As they might have said in the MasterCard advert, for cabbies there’s the long road of FoI requests, nudging the press and broadcasters, and making their case as best they can. For Jackie Doyle Price, there’s the ballot box. It’s as if she wants to lose there.

Boris Dodgy Broadcaster Hypocrisy

During Foreign Office questions in the Commons last October, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson made it very clear that he took a dim view of Labour MPs - like Jeremy Corbyn - appearing on the broadcasts of Russia Today: “If we study the output of Russia Today and consider the state of the press in Russia at present, we see that it is an absolute … scandal that Labour Members should be continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programmes” he blustered. I mean, Ofcom agreed with him!
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

Indeed, the HuffPost conceded “Russia Today, which has seen increasing prominence in recent years, has been the subject of sanctions from broadcast watchdog Ofcom for its slanted coverage of conflicts in Syria and Ukraine”.

Sadly for Bozza, this was a campaign destined to progress not necessarily to his advantage, as he had, not for the first time, failed to do his homework: “But his attempt to criticise the Labour leader backfired spectacularly when it emerged that his dad Stanley had himself appeared on Russia Today only last month to promote his latest book”. Several Tory MPs had also appeared on RT’s airwaves.

And Johnson has now shown himself to be yet another steaming Tory hypocrite after volunteering an interview to al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based pan-Arab TV channel owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center. Yes, Bozza has been happily validating Saudi interests. But the worst part was yet to come.
Remember the bit about Ofcom? Well, Ofcom has been busy recently with a complaint made against, er, al-Arabiya. A very serious complaint. Here’s the relevant part of the Ofcom judgment.

Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al Arabiya News on 27 February 2016 … The programme … included an interview with Mr Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction”. There was more.

The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture”. They broadcast material known to have been obtained through torture.
So it was no surprise that “Ofcom’s Executive found that the programme had breached Rules 7.1 and 8.1 of the Code … Ofcom’s Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again”.

That information was available five days before Bozza sat down for his interview. He’s not only a clown and a hypocrite, he’s not fit for office. But you knew that already.

Henry Bolton’s Army Career WASN’T

After embattled UKIP leader Henry Bolton was shown by Michael Crick of Channel 4 News to have falsified his degree qualification claims - one BA was entirely fictitious and the other a creative reinterpretation of an NVQ Level 6 - he might have hoped that there would be no more embarrassing revelations regarding his CV. I have to tell The Great Man that his hopes are about to be dashed - because there is more bad news to come.
Information has been received showing that Bolton’s Army career was mostly as fictitious as the BA from Sandhurst, which does not award such degrees.

His CV, published on LinkedIn, claims that he was a “Trooper and NCO” in the Royal Hussars from 1979 to 1990. However, a Forces Reunited search shows that, while there is a Henry Bolton who served with the Royal Hussars, it was someone who served between 1950 and 1952 (probably a National Serviceman) - before Bolton was born. There is no record of his having served in the Royal Hussars.

Then comes Bolton’s claim regarding the Territorial Army. His CV states that he was an “Infantry Company Commander and Military Intelligence Officer” between 1990 and 2000. However, I am reliably informed that in 1992, he was recorded as being “Territorial Army Group A - Reserve Officer” on probation. He cannot have been in both roles at the same time, so which was the real one?

It has been put to me that this item on Bolton’s CV is invention.

As for his having been a “Military Intelligence Commander” in Bosnia, it appears that there was no-one of his name who served in the Army in that campaign at that time. British troops initially served in Bosnia as part of UNPROFOR, and later as part of EUFOR, and there was only one British commander at that time, Colonel Bob Stewart (now an MP). This is another part of Bolton’s CV that appears to be wholly fictitious.

Another dead giveaway is that Bolton claims, among other embellishments, to have been a “Chieftain tank crewman”. If he had been, he would not have been an “Infantry Company Commander” at the same time. Ditto the “French Commando” claim. And as for “Jungle Warfare”, well, let’s not say any more. This is more fiction.
Bolton did, though, have a walk-on part in the aftermath of the former Yugoslavia: he appeared as a witness in the trial of a Macedonian official who was up before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). That was part of his secondment from the Thames Valley Police.

Sadly, this highpoint of his involvement did not go so well: the Macedonian official was cleared and walked from the court a free man.

And there are other claims in Bolton’s CV that do not stack up.

It is becoming clear that the appetite for lying, as exemplified by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, and falsification, as employed by Paul “Bad Bootle Meff” Nuttall, may be rather more widespread in UKIP. Henry Bolton is a prime example. He is not a credible party leader - the problem for the Kippers is that no-one else who wants the job is, either.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Ben Bradley - Pants On Fire

After he had been discovered urging the unemployed to be get themselves sterilised, urging more Police brutality, and advocating for the use of water cannon to enable him to play “Splat the Chav”, some might have thought that Tory MP Ben Bradley, who represents the unfortunate voters of Mansfield, near Nottingham, would see the error of his ways and at least keep control of his North and South from now on.
Ben Bradley - claims to be an MP

But that thought would have been misplaced, as not only did Bradley fail to get the hint that his behaviour was no better than all the remarks and attitudes he and his colleagues had attributed to Labour’s Jared O’Mara - who they have told the press should be thrown out of the Commons - he kept on whining, this time about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. And he wasn’t just whining, but lying as well.

Jezza had featured in the latest party leader interview for The Andy Marr Show (tm) last Sunday, and one of the subjects under discussion was homelessness, and how to house those who had fallen on times bad enough to see them out there on the streets, with nowhere to call home. Corbyn had asserted that a priority for an incoming Labour Government would be to purchase 8,000 houses for that very purpose.
The discussion also covered all those high-end properties being built in the London area, many of which, as Marr pointed out, are not being sold, with some that are sold not being occupied, the owners using them as a way of investing capital, with values appreciating as much as 10% every year. Corbyn pointed out that local authorities already have the power to compulsorily purchase property. But that was enough for Bradley.
This weekend @jeremycorbyn repeated his commitment to seizing private property in pursuit of 'redistribution' - a prospect that should horrify everyone who owns anything at all. If Government won't uphold your right to the home or business you've paid for, we're all stuffed” he wailed plaintively. But there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with that idea - it was bollocks.
The Marr Show’s own Twitter feed proves it: “.@jeremycorbyn says a Labour government would ‘immediately purchase 8000 properties across the country’ to tackle homelessness”. And, as the properties that were not selling, or being bought merely as an investment, were nowhere near Mansfield, and Bradley is a mere back bencher, one has to wonder what he’s at - other than more off-piste shit stirring.

Not only that, he couldn’t even lie coherently. “Re tomorrow's Telegraph story this is a categoric lie. The time limited period should be determined by the length of time it takes to put in place new arrangements, and we believe that should be around two years” he claimed, but if he doesn’t know the time needed to put in place new arrangement, how does he know what the Brexit transition period should be?
Ben Bradley is still a suitable case for expulsion from the Commons. Only moreso, now he’s decided to go around with his trousers well alight.

Problem is, if they bin him, they’d have to bin lots more. So no change there, then.

Brexit - BuzzFeed Busts Useless Press

Not for the first time recently, our free and fearless press has been caught not doing the job that it claims to do - bringing us the news. Perhaps this is because the news it has been caught not bringing us is the kind of news many newspapers would rather we did not see - because this news is bad for those wanting Britain to leave the EU.
So it has been left to the oft-derided New Media, in the shape of BuzzFeed News, to open the latest Brexit worm can, while the press - and, to their shame, all the broadcasters - were caught wrong footed. And the news was not good.

The government's new analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modelled, BuzzFeed News can reveal … The assessment, which is titled ‘EU Exit Analysis - Cross Whitehall Briefing’ and dated January 2018, looked at three of the most plausible Brexit scenarios based on existing EU arrangements”. Up to date analysis. And there was more.

Under a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, UK growth would be 5% lower over the next 15 years compared to current forecasts, according to the analysis … The ‘no deal’ scenario, which would see the UK revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, would reduce growth by 8% over that period. The softest Brexit option of continued single-market access through membership of the European Economic Area would, in the longer term, still lower growth by 2%”. Slam. Dunk. Bad. News.

But it was not all bad news for the press, especially the Brexit supporting part of it. In good time for tomorrow’s editions, out came serial liar Iain Duncan Cough to sniff “I think we should take this with a pinch of salt”. Jacob Rees Mogg declared the findings to be “highly speculative”, although neither of these less than august beings had bothered to check the reports and find out what analysis had gone into them.
The point, after all, was to rebut any news that was not to their liking. And what the press will be majoring on tomorrow was hinted at by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who carpedAlso worth noting that none of the models forecast - Norway, Canada or no deal - are currently being sought by the government”. Very good, O Great Guido. The problem with this argument is that what exactly the Government is seeking has not yet been revealed. So it cannot be modelled.

But we do know now what the Sun, Mail, Express and Telegraph will be telling their readers tomorrow: take it with a pinch of salt, they got it wrong before, we’re going to get a really special deal so it doesn’t matter, nothing to see here, look at all these wonderful talking heads we lined up who say exactly what our editors and proprietors want to hear.

There will be no mention that they were scooped by BuzzFeed. Or that the last time that happened - with the Trump Russia dossier - they rubbished the site, only for it to be revealed that BuzzFeed was right, and the boo boys were wrong.

The Brexit backing press just waved goodbye to thousands more readers. And their response will be as before - rearrange the deckchairs and pretend it’s not happening.

John Simpson PWNS Piers Morgan

The campaign by former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan to bask in the glory of having secured an interview with Combover Crybaby Donald Trump has, sadly, progressed not necessarily to his advantage, especially since that interview was revealed to be lame in the extreme. So The Great Man has been reduced to fighting a rearguard social media action, in which he has also, predictably, come off second best.
John Simpson - posing problems for secretive régimes

This has involved not only fighting off criticism, but going looking for it, as veteran BBC correspondent John Simpson discovered after he Tweeted “The art of the political interview, Piers, is to push your interviewee hard - not let them spout self-evident tosh. That's just showbiz”. He did not tag Morgan in his Tweet. But Piers was out there watching - or perhaps he had a chap to do that sort of thing for him.
Piers Morgan - just posing

And this meant only one thing: the deployment of sneering and arrogant abuse, the social media equivalent of him shouting down an interviewee on Good Morning Britain. “The BBC led on revelations from my interview all Friday morning, and Andrew Marr said yesterday it had made real news. So it would appear you’re the one spouting tosh, you pompous old prune”. No, Simpson didn’t want to look over there.
So Marr told him he ranked as high as any in Rome? Well, maybe not. And Simpson was nothing if not candid, responding gently “Pompous, probably. Old, undeniably. Prune, quite possibly. But I don’t enjoy watching spineless political interviews”. Spineless was, if anything, an understatement. But Morgan could not let that pass unchallenged. So it was on to the next weapon available to him: lying. But aggressively.
You once claimed live on air that the BBC (you!) had liberated Kabul, you egotistical charlatan. So please spare me the journalism lectures”. R-i-i-i-ight. A word in your shell-like, Piers. One, Simpson did not make that claim. And two, your calling “egotistical charlatan” on anyone else is Projection with a very large capital P.
I’ll go further: John Simpson has, in his long and distinguished career in proper journalism, been hunted down by the armed forces of countries hostile to his presence, dodged bullets in Tiananmen Square, been expelled from Iraq, travelled with the Ayatollah Khomeni to report first hand on the Iranian Revolution, and been fired on by a US warplane in an incident where one of his colleagues was killed.
Piers Morgan, on the other hand, forged his way in journalism by outing gay men under such creative titles as “The Poofters Of Pop”. He showed he has no sense of humour by coming over all spiteful after having the piss taken out of him on Have I Got News For You, and putting a tail on Ian Hislop. He still hasn’t given a convincing explanation of why he didn’t know the Mirror was hacking phones. And he’s turned Good Morning Britain into a shout-fest, just to mask his inability to do basic research and debate coherently.
John Simpson has, in just two moderately insouciant Tweets, put The Great Man in his place. The empty fury of Piers Morgan proves it, as does the direct conclusion of Emma Kennedy: “Can you imagine Emily Maitlis endlessly retweeting obsequious praise for an interview she’s done? No. Neither can I" . When you’re in a hole, and all that.

Gazza Tells Sun To Shove It

The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun love to score cheap copy. This is often achieved by scouring the Twitter and Facebook musings of Slebs and sports stars, which can then be cobbled up into articles where the hacks pretend they have some kind of inside track on the Slebs’ world. Sometimes the scouring extends to former sports stars, one of their favourites being footballer Paul Gascoigne.
Paul Gascoigne

Of course, the Sun’s pursuit of anything Gazza related is not just about social media: despite their CEO Rebekah Brooks once pretending that she was his friend, the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have recently put a tail on him, leaving bottles of alcohol outside his flat in the hope this will cause him to fall off the wagon and gift them yet more opportunities to flog a few more copies of their piss-poor rag.

But that caused such a backlash that even the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Ms Brooks had to order her troops to desist. So it was back to trawling social media, and last week brought a particularly fawning example of the genre, headlined “PITCH PERFECT … Healthy-looking Gazza tells fans he’s ‘feeling good’ as he posts beaming photos and jokes with fans on Twitter”. Yes, he stayed on the wagon despite the Murdoch goons’ efforts.
Someone who claims to be his friend

So what had the Sun gleaned from their Twitter trawl? “FOOTBALL hero Paul Gascoigne has loved playing the comedian for fans on Twitter over the last week, telling them he ‘just loves making people laugh’. A healthy-looking Gazza has been busy on social media over the last week, with fans loving his new hobby of cracking gags … After cracking the series of gags in recent days, he told fans that he appreciated their interaction”.

And there was, sadly, more. Rather a lot more. “He said: ‘Thanks for the banter an your tweets and I hope you like me jokes, if ya don’t keep it to yaself, if you do tell everyone hahaha. I just love making people laugh xx’ … Fans have also been delight [sic] to see the former England hero looking in great shape”. All those Tweets recycled for more hits, eh? But one rather more upfront and unsubtle Tweet was missing.
What he really thinks of the Sun

Maybe the subject of that Tweet had put the Sun hacks off. As Rolf might have said, can you guess what it is yet? Yes, it’s about them. “Oh no just had a knock at my door two guys I said yes! They said hi we’re from the sun! I said yeh and I'm from the earth now fuck off”. It’s the way he tells them. It’s a cracker!

But you won’t be seeing anything like that in the Currant Bun. I mean, there’s what the official BBC announcer would have called Very Strong Language From The Start. But what it really shows is what Gazza thinks of arch-hypocrite Rebekah and her merry men. The impression that he’s pals with those Sun hacks who cobble up their crummy stories out of his Twitter feed is utterly false. He hates the bastards. And they know it.

So if you’re really Gazza’s pal, and you want to show him a gesture of support, then there’s only one thing you need to remember. Don’t Buy The Sun.

Monday 29 January 2018

May’s Militant Tendency

The Tory Party has always been terribly sensitive to charges of entryism, extremism, parties within parties and improper behaviour. This hair trigger response was exemplified by the rabid denunciation of the BBC investigation which culminated in the Panorama programme “Maggie’s Militant Tendency”. So hopefully the people at Open Democracy have braced themselves for the righteous abuse coming their way.
And the abuse will be coming their way, with the certainty of night following day, after Adam Ramsay’s piece today telling of what is effectively a “Party within a party” called the European Reform Group. The sub-heading, “Tory ministers have used taxpayer cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit pressure group, now led by outspoken government critic Jacob Rees-Mogg”, tells you all you need to know.

He goes on “Senior Conservative ministers including Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and David Gauke have used taxpayers’ cash to fund the hard-Brexit European Research Group … The ministers have funded this lobby group (through their expense claims) whilst holding posts in government - despite the ministerial code prohibiting ministers from becoming ‘associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy’”. Oh dear!

There is more: “openDemocracy has also uncovered new evidence that a number of other key figures in government - including Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Fernandes – have remained active in the ERG after taking on government posts, and that the senior whip Chris Heaton-Harris has hosted meetings for them inside parliament”.

Heaton Harris has previously skated on very thin ice with his backing for the phantom candidacy of James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole in the Corby by-election - which the Tories lost. The impression was given at the time his deceit was exposed that Heaton Harris did not always prioritise observing such trivial items as rules.
Other parties’ MPs, though, are rather keen on the idea, with Labour’s “Chris Bryant calling it a ‘clear conflict of interest’; Caroline Lucas [Green Party] labelling the findings ‘deeply concerning’ and the SNP’s Deirdre Brock asking, ‘What kind of shameless opportunist would be supporting their colleagues in public while betraying them in private?’

And Open Democracy’s analysis shows “that, since 2010, ten Conservative MPs have paid subscriptions to the organisation while holding ministerial posts. Four of these … only did so in the period before the European referendum, when Cameron had waived Cabinet collective responsibility on the issue of EU membership … But six more have paid subscriptions to the group outside that period, including four who are still in government: Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, David Gauke, and Penny Mordaunt”.

The ERG is organising against its own party, demanding the Government adopt its preferred kind of Brexit. Rees Mogg dishonestly scoffs that any outcome that does not enjoy his approval will see Britain as a “Vassal State”, another shameless diversion tactic to misrepresent the EU. So what will Theresa May do about them?

We know what Labour did to Militant. We know what entryism looks like. We know all about misuse of Parliamentary expenses. And we the people are paying for it.

Piers Morgan Fails Journalism 101

As many have already figured out from his cheesy Life Stories series on ITV - a much longer and infinitely more tedious version of This Is Your Life, which at least had the benefit of surprise, and for those of us of A Certain Age, the excellence of Eamonn Andrews - and the use of Good Morning Britain to boorishly and predictably shout down guests, the journalistic range of former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan is strictly limited.
But Morgan has connections. He knows people. And what’s more, he is never backwards in coming forwards to tell anyone in earshot that he knows people. He is famous for knowing famous people. Just don’t mention that the Daily Mirror, during his time as editor, indulged in phone hacking on a scale so vast that he didn’t know it was happening.

Morgan’s connections include Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, who he claims to have interviewed for ITV. This potentially serious breach of the Trades Descriptions Act was broadcast yesterday evening, trailed so extensively that discerning viewers were able to ensure they were sitting comfortably, and watching something else.

So what pearls of wisdom were imparted during this encounter between two old pals? Was there any use in it having taken place, let alone being broadcast? Strangely, there was a purpose to the charade, but not in the way either participant might have hoped.

While Morgan maintained his softball approach, eschewing the vulgarity of those proper political interviewers, Trump’s rambling incoherence showed the world that this really is the real-life incarnation of Chauncey Gardiner. And that should frighten anyone watching.

This is what The Donald said about climate change: “There is a cooling and there is a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming, right? That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now but now they’re setting records. Now they’re at a record level. There are so many things happening. I tell you what I believe in - clear air, I believe in crystal-clear, beautiful water, I believe in just having cleanliness and all”. That’s a hick speaking. But one that got elected US President.

Did he eat burgers and drink Coke? “I eat fine food, really from some of the finest chefs in the world, I eat healthy food, I also have some of that food on occasion... I think I eat actually quite well”. So that’s a yes, then. And on feminism?

No, I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist … I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I’m for women, I’m for men, I’m for everyone”. He doesn’t understand what it means.

So Trump was not quizzed on all the affairs, the allegations of sexual assault, the Russia probe, North Korea, Iran, Steve Bannon, sympathy for racists and white supremacists, and his apparent inability to get anything done, barring a tax bill that will line the pockets of the well-off and leave his country indebted for years to come? On that, Morgan failed Journalism 101, and badly. But he inadvertently showed us his pal is an overgrown child.

It’s just a pity that he sought to normalise this grotesque, free speech hating, journalism trashing, bigoted, misogynist, ignorant, bullying fraud who watches Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) and believes it. Call him what he is - unfit to serve.

Times Hires Another Racist

The legacy of Philip Larkin stands on its own; the casual racism he was wont to exhibit, though, causes many to stop and think. But not Michael Henderson, who dismissed this aspect of Larkin’s not always worldly provincialism by simply sayingA racist would not go on Desert Island Discs and choose records by Louis Armstrong (‘the Chaucer and Shakespeare of jazz’), Bessie Smith and Billie Holliday”.
Afua Hirsch

Some of his favourite artists were black. This, perhaps, did not occur to Henderson, and one can readily see why that might be after he was hired by the Murdoch Times to review Brit(ish), by lawyer, journalist and broadcaster Afua Hirsch. The sub-title of the book, “On Race, Identity, and Belonging” has Henderson sniffing loftilyThis racism-obsessed polemic is tiresome and clichéd”. What a struggle reading it must have been for him.

The impression is given of an overbearing schoolmaster given the task of pulling a precocious yet tiresome pupil down a peg or two, to teach them a lesson: “she was called to the Bar and, despite having no apparent journalistic experience other than a spot of teenage scribbling, has subsequently worked as a reporter for newspapers and television. But oh, that struggle!” One can almost feel the righteous admonition.
You, young ‘un, wouldn’t know what struggle is …” and so on until we get perilously close to a segué into the Four Yorkshiremen sketch. Henderson must have had it tough. What he also had was little understanding of the reality for many Britons. He sneers “she sees privilege, prejudice and snobbery everywhere. The British Establishment has ‘perfected’ vilification of the working classes. No, it hasn’t. ‘White supremacy is ever present in British society’. No, it isn’t”. Perhaps someone wasn’t looking? Just a thought.
Ms Hirsch is denounced for not travelling more widely, which is a brave punt, considering she was born in Norway, brought up in London, lived in Senegal, and worked in Ghana. Her references to colonialism and imperialism are equally dismissed as “more heat than light”. Henderson throws in “self-obsessed” and “fantasy” along the way.

But enough. The Times knew who it was hiring to write what is laughably titled a “review”. It is a crude and sneering put-down of someone who is clearly considered not to know her place. And the Times has significant previous for this: as Sayeeda Warsi pointed out, “They got Douglas Murray who called me the ‘Enemy’ to review my book  When a book review is not a book review but an opportunity to further an agenda of division”.
Rupe greets one of those non-white people

At least Doug Murray the K managedThis sloppy book adds little to the debate about Islam in Britain”, which is marginally better than the direct bigotry of his earlierSayeeda Warsi is part of the jihadist emigration problem” for the Spectator magazine. But her comment is well founded: the bigotry that has for so long been a feature of the Murdoch tabloids has now infected the alleged quality titles like the Times.

Moreover, that infection has not happened by accident. As with the Spectator chasing hits by cultivating bigots like Murray, the Times has sought out Michael Henderson, knowing his appetite for sneering at the non-whites while pretending it’s not really happening.

Henderson is a disgrace. But the Murdoch press is yet worse for enabling him.

Sunday 28 January 2018

Nadine Dorries' EU Lesson

Anyone compiling a list of the most fervent Leave backers among Tory MPs cannot rest until they have included (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. The member for mid-Bedfordshire has wasted no opportunity to lay into anyone deviating from the path of true Europhobia. The problem she faces is that, as with so much else, she shows every sign of not knowing what on earth she is talking about.
The fragrant Nadine, so idolised by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog that they simperingly refer to her only by her first name, has wasted no opportunity to chide anyone she considers unworthy of attention of the subject, notably when she sniped at Ian Dunt “The Brexit ‘thing’ is the amicable solution reached via free trade negotiation. If you are right Ian, we will leave with no deal”.
Dunt, as observers of the Brexit debate will know, has dedicated a considerable amount of time to getting knowledgeable about the EU, which puts Ms Dorries’ attitude towards him in the “brave” category. Equally brave is her abrasive dismissal of other Tories, as when she sniped “Amazing, the same people who heckle, boo, abuse and intimidate #Brexit supporting MPs in the chamber, then rise another day to complain to the Speaker that people are trying to shut them down and suppress the debate” at Anna Soubry.
Ms Soubry has also made it her duty to know her subject, so telling her she should “learn a lesson” is a bit rich, as is the Dorries dismissal of Jenni Russell’s pro-EU argument with “Our membership of the EU is what has bled us of money that could have gone into skills and education. It has robbed us of our sovereignty heaping undemocratic laws upon us weekly. It has flooded our shores with unrestricted immigration putting pressure on our schools”. No EU law is passed without European Parliament approval.
And, as any fule kno, the EP is a democratically elected body, which tells you all you need to know about Ms Dorries’ deep understanding of the subject. But there was our free and fearless press, ready to give her a free pass because she was ever ready to shoot off her North and South on the subject. Until this weekend.
It was then that BuzzFeed revealed her ignorance of the subject. After she had been told that the UK could not strike its own trade deals if it were to remain in the Customs Union, she asserted “But, other countries who are members of the CU do … That’s why I asked. Do they have exceptions? This was a question in a discussion last night. I need to find out what countries are members and have free trade agreements with other countries first”.

No, no other country that is a member of the CU does. Small wonder that BuzzFeed then noted “Dorries didn't respond to requests for comment on Friday”. But there she was on Peston on Sunday (memo to ITV people: it’s not doing your credibility any favours) this morning claiming “I can almost categorically say” her hero Bozza was not behind the leaks about Gavin Williamson. Er, if they were coming from the FO, yes he was.
We know that Nadine Dorries has problems with honesty and credibility. But being prepared to denounce something without knowing what it actually means is taking things to another level entirely. It’s one step removed from “Down with this sort of thing”.

Nadine Dorries is not fit to be an MP. But everyone except the media knew that anyway.