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Saturday, 21 July 2018

Piers Morgan - Out Of Touch Brexit Man

As the Brexit debate continues to give off more heat than light, the last thing it needs is the pointless ramblings of someone who really is part of the elite, really is out of touch with ordinary people, and really isn’t going to listen to anyone who views detract from the relentless pursuit of More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.
So what the Brexit debate received was the pointless and unwelcome presence of former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, someone so on top of his brief that he had no idea that he was presiding over an increasingly criminal enterprise for which the Mirror’s current owners are still paying out millions of pounds in compensation.
The nuances of the Morgan approach to the little people are subtly explained

Morgan is rich beyond most peoples’ wildest dreams, whether or not he merits any of it. His idea of a bet is to wave his wad in the style of Harry Enfield’s least sympathetic creation in a highest up the wall contest with other rich people (although at least the beneficiary is usually a good cause). What he’s prepared to blow on a wager is more than many millions of Britons will see in an entire year. But he knows more than you and me.
Britain prevailed over two World Wars during the last century. I'm sure we can prevail over Brexit, however it unravels” he declared, suggesting that paying an obscene amount of money for one of Winshton’s left-over cigars may have gone to his head (Britain ceased to be a world power after the first of those wars, and was stoney broke after the second).
The level of delusion was only underscored by “Brexit's going to happen, so painting an endlessly apocalyptic picture is ultimately self-defeating. The time will very soon come for the country to rally together & fight hard to make it work. Or we just roll over & surrender”. To whom would we surrender? One can almost hear Harry Palmer in Billion Dollar Brain asking the wacko General Midwinter “Who’re you fighting, General?
He really believes this rubbish, too. “I'm not being jingoistic. Brexit is the biggest challenge Britain's faced since WW2. It will soon require the same kind of national resilience & collective positive mindset to make it work”. This is easy for someone who will not be one of the up to 2.8 million who lose their jobs in the pursuit of nationalistic purity.
We should just be positive, adopt a perma-smile in the style of Richard Tice, and all will be magically transformed. Thus another example of how out of touch the real media elite has become. But there was more. “Statistically this is the safest, healthiest, most prosperous time to ever be alive in Britain. Some perspective is important. Brexit is not going to cause the deaths of millions of people”. Let’s take this nice and slowly, shall we?

There are millions in poverty right now. If the economy heads down and unemployment heads up, there will not only be millions more, but the worst-off will see a decline in their quality of life and some will fall by the wayside - literally. Still, for those whose only privation is not being able to blag a table at the Chiltern Firehouse, who cares, eh?
What say Piers to that? Well, in his world, we have to do it anyway. “Mate, 17.4m Britons didn't agree with you & me - they wanted to leave the EU. We lost & Brexit will happen, or our democracy dies”. No, the people seeing what Brexit really means and voting accordingly shows that our democracy is very much alive.
And just to show the world how out of touch he was, Morgan then came out with this pearler: “I try to be balanced & reasonable about Trump & Brexit but nobody wants balance. They just want THEIR opinion to be the ONLY opinion - and anyone who says otherwise must be abused into silence”. Sounds like him on GMB.

Piers Morgan is not the only member of the real media elite to show the world that he is totally out of touch with how life is lived by 95% plus of those he uses his ITV pulpit to talk down to of a morning. But he is undoubtedly the only one who is so shamelessly loud and tone-deaf with it. He doesn’t experience it, so it doesn’t happen.

But good to know he doesn’t understand democracy, doesn’t care, and doesn’t listen.

BBC Duped By Dead Cat

After Vote Leave, the official EU referendum Leave campaign, was found by the Electoral Commission to have broken the law, was fined, and had some of its luminaries referred to the Police, the problems that the BBC had had reporting and analysing that campaign got a whole lot worse. And the row over their approach isn’t dying down just yet.
As Zelo Street regulars will know, the Beeb had previously claimed that VL only broke the rules, not the law. It was apparent that their political editor Laura Kuenssberg had been briefed by VL, and most likely Matthew Elliott, a co-founder of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, an organisation that trades in falsehood and misinformation.

Following the EC rulings, VL has decreed that it will appeal, and has put out its own spin, especially on the assertion by the EC that VL refused to cooperate with its investigation. This has taken the form of one email, shorn of context, released via the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.
Thus the scene is set. Enter former Kipper Suzanne Evans, someone with significant previous for being economical with the actualité. Interviewed on the BBC Daily Politics, she used the email to suggest that the EC were in the wrong, that it was they who had declined to talk to VL, and not the other way around.

The thought that the email, where the EC tells VL it already has sufficient evidence to proceed, might have come late in the day when VL knew they were about to get the wrong end of the decision and belatedly decided to cooperate - only to find they were too late - is not allowed to enter. Context. Double check anything coming from chez Fawkes.
Adam Bienkov of Business Insider was not convinced. “But there’s a difference between broadcasting and debating a balance of opposing views (which few people object to) and broadcasting and tweeting something which is demonstrably untrue in the name of ‘balance’. You can’t balance facts. Something is either true or it isn’t”.
What say editor of live political programmes Rob Burley? “The whole discussion here about VL/EC and Elliot is disputed. The respective sides say different things about it and it’s not resolved”. No, the discussion has been shifted by VL and their pals at the Fawkes blog into discussing what, without context, is no more than a dead cat.
Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer had, by now, been dragged into the developing row. “It's not ‘disputed’. The Electoral Commission is the legal regulator and it found Vote Leave had broken the law. That's like calling a murder verdict ‘disputed’. The murderer might dispute it but he's still guilty”. Jessica Simor intervened to mention Elliott’s dishonesty.
And here Matthew Elliot says the High Court has found Vote Leave conduct lawful when a judgment PENDING on a different issue (legality of cross donations of goods & services). Plus saying Grimes was never in the Vote Leave office”. Matthew Elliot was caught by Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick. He lied his way out of it.
That the BBC is not getting all of this was demonstrated by an exchange between Tim Poole and Burley, where the former muses “I think @RobBurl is referring specifically to point about VL disputing EC's assertion that VL refused interviews. That point alone *is* disputed (as well as the finding). Q is: Does what EC say about the interviews, *specifically*, have same legal standing as their findings?
Burley confirms this is the case. “Thanks - this is what is being discussed in the clip. Telling that people aren’t even bothering to watch the tweeted clip they criticise”. Well, I’ve seen the clip, as I suspect have Bienkov, Ms Cadwalladr and Ms Simor.

Without the full context of the email that VL leaked via the Fawkes rabble, and which Suzanne Evans tries to put up as part of a narrative that suggests this is a disputational point - it isn’t - it is utterly worthless as evidence.
Once again, let me spell this out: Vote Leave have tried to frame the Electoral Commission findings as somehow flawed, and that this is a disputational matter. They have zero evidence to back up the first point, and an equal amount to support the second. The email taken out of context is a dead cat, and should have been identified as such the moment it was raised by Ms Evans. It should have been put into context, or dismissed.
The BBC has, again, danced to the tune given it by Matthew Elliott - someone who you could not trust as far as he could be usefully chucked - and the Guido Fawkes blog, a borderline Fake News site. Thus the exasperation of so many observers.

This should not be difficult to grasp. One can only hope that grasping takes place soon.

Sajid Javid HALF APOLOGISES To Corbyn

After Home Secretary Sajid Javid overplayed his hand and gave his followers the clear suggestion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had indulged in Holocaust denial, the condemnation came thick and fast. More importantly for Javid, so did what appears to have been a communication from Jezza’s lawyers, and thus what may be a long process of rowing back and finally retracting and apologising.
Javid had told a Tweeter who gave the impression of supporting Corbyn “How can you even question the Holocaust. Please think carefully about what you are saying. Don’t be misled by Corbyn”. That other Tweeter then vanished - the account was either closed voluntarily, or forcibly suspended. This left Javid’s Tweet standing there on its own, and standing on its own, it looked seriously bad - and seriously defamatory.
So seriously defamatory that MPs like Clive Lewis were moved sufficiently to intervene: “.@sajidjavid are you seriously accusing @jeremycorbyn of being a Holocaust denier? Seriously I’d apologise, detract and wind your neck in. And whilst your at it launch an investigation into Islamophobia in your own sorry excuse for a political party”. We never do hear about the Tories’ very clear racism problems, do we?
And then, it seems, the lawyers became involved, or perhaps it was merely the threat of their involvement. Javid then told “Corbyn is not a holocaust denier. I am happy to make that clear. My comment referred to @Muhammad_S_85 buying into Corbyn's position on anti-Semitism”. But that is not nearly good enough.
As Skwawkbox has noted, “Javid’s retraction looks mealy-mouthed at best, still leaving a smear hanging in the air like a bad smell”. It infers anti-Semitism on Corbyn’s part. It allows those like Daniel Sugarman from the Jewish Chronicle to observe “Never in my worst nightmares did I ever imagine that I'd see this country's Home Secretary having to plead with a Corbyn supporter not to deny the Holocaust”.
The damage has been done, and will not be undone by Javid’s half-apology. It has convinced no-one; instead, there was disbelief and ridicule, typical responses including “That's not an apology. You misrepresented his position, insinuating he pardons Holocaust denial and you continue to misrepresent his position by saying Mohammad somehow buys into it. Not good enough. Try again, stating what Corbyn's actual position is”.
And lawyer Chris Corney concluded that Javid was not yet out of the woods. “36 hours and that's the best your legal team can do? And you are now alleging that someone who was a holocaust denier was ‘buying into’ Corbyns position on anti-semitism. That's a new libel. I'd swap advisors Sajid”. It certainly looks that way.
The only way that Sajid Javid is going to make amends, and start to undo the damage he has done - perhaps not accidentally - is going to be the kind of apology that the deeply unpleasant Ben Bradley was forced to make after claiming Corbyn was a paid agent of the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile, one more question needs to be asked.

Just why do the Tories and their hangers-on think it acceptable to routinely defame the leader of the opposition? It’s not just one rogue MP - and it’s time they cut it out.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Sun Betting Service FLOPS

It seems like only yesterday that News UK launched its owndigital betting and gaming platform”: “The launch is backed by a multi-million pound marketing campaign across print, digital, radio and TV. Ambassadors Ian Wright and Matt Chapman will promote the brand … The initiative is the latest addition to The Sun's stable of sport and entertainment products, which includes The Sun newspaper and website, Dream Team fantasy football game and Sun Bingo”, told Newsworks in Summer 2016.
Yes Becky, you'll have to get off your arse and work a little harder

And look who was on hand to promote it! “Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK said: ‘This is a hugely significant juncture for News UK and The Sun, marking the start of an era where new brands and revenue generating streams are being created on the back of the strength and much sought-after reach of The Sun. Sun Bets is set to be a game-changer in the online betting world and to those asking if it will be a success, the simple answer is YouBetcha.’” So how did Sun Bets fare after its launch?

Not so well, as Racing Post reported last year. “Heavy losses at Sun Bets pushed Australian giant Tabcorp into the red in 2016-17 as their start-up bookmaker, a joint venture with News UK, owner of the Sun newspaper, reported losses of A$47.6 million (approximately £29m) … Launched in August 2016, Sun Bets' operating loss dragged Tabcorp down to an overall loss of A$20.8m. The firm also wrote down the value of its Sun Bets assets by A$20.7m.” Oh dear! And what of Sun Bets this year?

It was bad news. “Sun Bets, the ailing bookmaker launched less than two years ago by the publisher of The Sun newspaper and Australian gambling giant Tabcorp, ceased trading on Thursday – although the brand may yet be resurrected … A message on the firm's website on Thursday told customers they should withdraw their funds immediately, although account holders were reassured by email that their funds were safe”.

Another Super Soaraway Currant Bun failure! So what did the Sun have to say about this latest little local difficulty? Well, nothing. Not a sausage. Zip. Zilch. Nil. Nix. Nada. Bugger all. And Sun Bets could only manageTabcorp UK Ltd has ceased providing gaming services on behalf of Sun Bets. Please withdraw any funds you may hold with us immediately. For more information, please view our FAQs”.
So “the start of an era where new brands and revenue generating streams are being created on the back of the strength and much sought-after reach of The Sun” turned out to be a false dawn. And the claim “Sun Bets is set to be a game-changer in the online betting world” was just Propagandist rubbish. The reality is that the Sun is in serious decline and Tabcorp’s experience will merely warn off future business partners.

Rebekah Brooks is going to have to try a lot harder if she wants to pull News UK out of the kind of terminal decline that would not survive after Rupert Murdoch either loses interest, or shuffles off. That means spending less time yakking to her pals from the comfort of her 13th floor eyrie, and applying herself to actually dealing with business.

Otherwise The News Building won’t be The News Building for long. That is all.

BBC New Politics Dawn - MAYBE

The BBC has vanquished all comers when it comes to Sunday politics shows: Sky News’ offering, whoever is hosting, attracts fewer than 100,000 viewers, Robert Peston’s ITV show is ending - or, at least, ending on Sunday morning - thus leaving the field mainly to The Andy Marr Show™ with Sunday Politics to come.
Jo Coburn - will still be there at lunchtimes

But economies have to be made, and so Sunday Politics ends this weekend - for good. Regional politics programmes will follow Marr, but not to rub salt in the Sky News wound, oh no. And Daily Politics will be replaced by a new and different, honestly, offering. And it is there where we need to consider the devil in the detail.
Still caning the competition

BBC editor of live political programmes Rob Burley has not only sent an email informing colleagues of the changes, he has been brave enough to make it more generally available. Politics Live, the new weekday offering, “will be a modern, conversationial and accessible new political programme broadcast every weekday lunchtime from our Westminster studio at Millbank”. So what is going to be different, then?
Boasting a new set, the programme will draw its inspiration from programs like NBC’s [?] Morning Joe … It will feel informal and unstuffy, with a panel of politicians, journalists and other interesting people from national life”. Hold it right there.

Morning Joe, the breakfast offering from MSNBC [pedantry point], succeeds for a variety of reasons. One is the politics background and contacts book of hosts Joe Scarborough, a former Congressman, and Mika Brzezinski, whose father Zbigniew was national security advisor to the Carter administration in the late 1970s.
Morning Joe: Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Another plus point for Morning Joe is the roster of pundits and guests, from resident-pundit-cum-co-host Willie Geist to all the academics, press representatives, and “names” who appear on a more or less regular basis (wonder if Tina Brown was fashionably late when she last appeared? One for Rob Burley there).

And that is where the BBC will stand or fall in mimicking this concept. Morning Joe effectively has three co-hosts, along with a number of guests in the studio - guests who are seriously knowledgeable (think New York Times, not New York Post).
Morning Joe: Willy Geist (2nd left) with guests - will the BBC try this format? Could be a difficult one to pull off

If the Beeb follows the spirit of Morning Joe, it will clear out the tired and indeed tedious succession of Westminster bubble bores, lobby group representatives and tabloid press makeweights - replacing them by guests from the real world, including getting people who know their subject on areas like the environment, transport and economics.

That would mean throwing out the IEA, CPS, ASI, TPA and the rest of the Astroturfers. It would mean climate change being discussed seriously, rather than making it a denialist shouting match. It would mean talking HS2 and Crossrail 2 with knowledgeable people, not a careerist from Conservative Home. It would mean no access merely on the basis of appeasing the press barons or political parties.

Those of us who have worked in IT have a tired but true maxim which illustrates the Beeb’s problem, whatever the format: Garbage In, Garbage Out. You have been warned.

Katie Hopkins Flirts With Libel AGAIN

The far-right in the UK seems to have gathered the wagons in a circle around the case of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, and in particular his being in jail following a second contempt of court within a period of 18 months. The rogues’ gallery has also been swelled by many from other countries - well, those who don’t get themselves barred because of their bad behaviour, anyway.
Viewers may still want to look away now

So it should surprise no-one that pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins has leapt aboard this particular bandwagon, talking well but lying badly about Lennon, his campaigns, and his alleged predicament. She has combined this activity with doing her part to demonise the established print and broadcast media, and now the two have come together as she has veered perilously close to landing herself with another defamation action.
Pausing only to show her support for actual Nazis for being abusive to the BBC - “Excellent work by #identitarians. Well done lads” - without mentioning that several of their number are on trial in Graz right now, and that the Identiarians are also Islamophobic and anti-Semitic, Ms Hopkins gets right down to trashing the media.
First on her hit list was Peter Walker of the Guardian. “Bless this boy. Facts really aren’t his thing”. And what had Walker done wrong? Actually, he had done nothing wrong. He reported that Lennon was only appealing his custodial sentence, and then when the latter’s legal team made it clear that they were going to additionally appeal the contempt of court, he corrected himself. This is called journalism.
That change from Lennon and his lawyers had also come too late for The Secret Barrister, not that it mattered to Ms Hopkins: “Poor Walter Mitty, facts just aren’t their thing. #TommyRobinson appeals charge AND sentencing. The confusion sits with you, honey bunch”. Getting quite on her high horse, isn’t she? But there was a problem, and it was called reality. Condemnation of her own facts problem soon followed.
A Tweeter called Victoria put it directly. “In all due respect, @BarristerSecret tweet is dated 17th July, this pinned tweet of yours Hopkins is dated the 18th July, you also claim that Tommy is only appealing SENTENCE, you work for Rebel huh and like Ezra he too thought it was just sentence”. Indeed. Ezra Levant of Rebel Media, and Hatey Katie herself, originally thought it was only sentence Lennon was appealing.
And The Secret Barrister had bad news for someone who dumped Mail Online with a thumping legal bill, and then dumped one on herself, for libelling others. “1/ Robinson’s spokesperson stated he was only appealing the length of the committal … The ‘confusion’ arose from his late change of instructions …  2/ Tell me more about ‘facts’, Mrs ‘Three Libels’ … 3/ Be careful calling people ‘Walter Mitty’. You don’t want to make it four”.

Ouch! Ms Hopkins has gone all quiet on that front since those replies came in. Perhaps the rest of her family would rather still have a roof over their heads for the foreseeable future and have prevailed on her to stitch her North And South.

Katie Hopkins is veering close to the libel line again. It’s only a matter of time.

Sajid Javid Defames Jeremy Corbyn

Tory MPs veering across the defamation line in their efforts to smear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to be increasingly popular: first there was the singularly unpleasant Ben Bradley, the accidental MP for Mansfield, who was eventually forced to retract his claim that Jezza had been a paid Soviet spy, and make a significant donation to a local food bank (that meant it hurt). And now has come Sajid Javid.
The Home Secretary decided yesterday that he would climb aboard the bandwagon attempting to make capital from a confrontation in Parliament apparently engineered by veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge, where she made a number of allegations against Corbyn which for some reason she has been loath to repeat outside the Palace of Westminster. Javid, ever the political opportunist, sensed an opening.
Labour had, it seems, decided to take action against Ms Hodge, which is their business. Javid decided it was his business, too: “Margaret Hodge’s family were murdered in the Holocaust. Instead of listening to her, Corbyn chooses to condemn her. How on earth can he claim he doesn’t have a problem with Jews? #disgraceful”. Excellent non sequitur there. But then he got suckered by another Tweeter.
What was in the Tweet to which Javid then replied is not known - it, and its author, have since vanished. But we do know what the Home Secretary said in reply: “How can you even question the Holocaust. Please think carefully about what you are saying. Don’t be misled by Corbyn”. There is only one inference that can be taken from that Tweet: that Corbyn is a Holocaust denier. Sajid Javid was in deep doo-doo.
One Tweeter tried to gently move the Home Secretary in the direction of saying sorry and deleting the offending claim. “Are you implying that Jeremy Corbyn has in any way suggested that the Holocaust is not real? Think carefully before you reply”. Whether he chose to do so is not known - as there was no reply.
And the Tweet remained intact. PR man Mike Hind also tried a little gentle persuasion on the MP for Bromsgrove. “That 'Muhammad_S_85' account you just used to imply that Jeremy Corbyn denies the Holocaust has now disappeared. You should really delete this public smear on the basis that it relies on a tweet from a banned account. After all, you are the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom”. No reply to that, either.
The Tweet stayed up. Perhaps the band played on, too. Judy Hamilton was not impressed. “The fact the Home Secretary responded to an account that’s now banned is bad. What is far worse is that it seems he used it as an excuse to accuse the Leader of the Opposition of fooling people into believing there was no holocaust. This is disgusting behaviour for a [Secretary] of State”. Had the vanished account been banned? Oh dear!

Sajid Javid, in taking no action to delete a Tweet making a highly defamatory suggestion about the Labour leader, has left himself open to not merely highly adverse comment, but yet another of those legal actions that Jezza will win, and he will lose.

Say sorry, Home Secretary. And get ready to make that food bank donation.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Press Hearts Sir Cliff BUT

Yesterday was a big day for Harry Webb, more usually known as Cliff Richard, still able to attract legions of older fans who can readily remember the words to songs such as Congratulations (the UK’s 1968 Eurovision entry, which lost to the Spanish, a feat he repeated in 1973. Hello Iain Dale). They were singing those words outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand as Richard won a landmark privacy case against the BBC.
As the Beeb itself reported, “Sir Cliff Richard has won his privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a police raid on his home … High Court judge Mr Justice Mann awarded an initial £210,000 in damages … The singer claimed the BBC's reporting of the 2014 raid, which was part of an investigation into historical child sex allegations, was a ‘serious invasion’ of privacy. He was never arrested or charged”.

The BBC’s costs could run into millions; our free and fearless press, therefore, was in rapture at the news - but only up to a point. The Corporation’s legal correspondent Clive Coleman explained why this might be: “The judge found it was not merely the BBC's use of helicopter pictures which breached Sir Cliff's right to privacy. The simple naming of Sir Cliff as a suspect in the police investigation amounted to a breach of his privacy”.
There was more. “It means, going forward, people who are suspects in police investigations, save in exceptional circumstances, are entitled to reasonably expect the matter is kept private and not covered by the media”. And the press, many of whose pundits laid into the BBC when it first broke the story, are now saying more or less the same thing, which proves they would have run the exclusive, had they been given it.
Hence even the Guardian telling “Media freedom ‘under threat’ after BBC loses Cliff Richard privacy case”, while the Mail first told readers “TEARFUL CLIFF: BBC HEADS MUST ROLL” before ordering Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover over the top to claim “The BBC behaved idiotically. But [it’s a big but] I fear the judge’s ruling could let Police raid your home at 4am without facing public scrutiny”.
Similarly, the Mirror proclaims “INNOCENT STAR WINS BBC BATTLE” and then asks “Is a good day for Sir Cliff a bad day for Justice?” and the Sun thunders “CLIFF WINS £5 MILLION BBC PRIVACY CASE” and declares “Ruling Threatens To Gag Free Speech … It’s not funny … we can’t talk anymore”, proving that at least one employee at the Baby Shard bunker is old enough to remember when Richard was still making hit records.
Thus the hypocrisy: the Sun and Mail condemned the Beeb for naming Richard, but they would have done the same thing, had they had the story first. Their talk of “free speech” today shows that they want to be able to name suspects again. And what none of them want you to know is that this very subject would have been examined by Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, which our less than free and fearless Government has binned.
Privacy is one of those things that the press defends through the deployment of injunctions - hello Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks - but does not want anyone else to have. So they can name suspects before charge and not really - honest - suggest to their readers that They Done It. Privacy is for paedos, as one of their luminaries once put it.

The press likes to see the BBC suffer. It likes to see the little people suffer rather more.