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Wednesday 31 October 2018

Rochdale Council Leader On The Brink

These are not easy times for the Labour old guard on Rochdale Council, associated as they are with disgraced former MP Simon Danczuk and his predilection for a variety of dirty tricks: former leader Richard Farnell was merely suspended from the party after he had been judged to have lied to the Statutory Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse, and now his successor Allen Brett is under pressure to follow him out the door.
Allen Brett with an old friend

Brett, who was Danczuk’s election agent while Spanker Si remained an official Labour MP, has already been the target of a no confidence motion from Heywood and Middleton CLP. He has been adjudged to have brought the Council into disrepute. Now, as the good people at Rochdale Online have told, he is to appear before the Council’s standards committee. And that isn’t the half of his problems.

While Brett has told “that the council’s monitoring officer was responsible for calling meetings of the standards sub-committee and he had no influence on the timing of it, but declined to comment on the matter any further” and RO has added “Rochdale Council says it has followed its processes which accounts for the six month interval between the matter coming to light and the hearing being called … It also confirmed that Councillor Brett has no say on who sits on the standards committee”, some are still unhappy.

Andy Kelly, who leads the Lib Dem contingent on Rochdale Council, is one of those. He’s concluded “My own view is that nothing will happen, there’s just this sort of ingrained structure whereby, even if he is found guilty, the standards committee can’t do anything anyway … It’s up to each party to take responsibility for each councillor’s conduct, and you have to ask what are Labour doing?” It was, after all, Labour who finished off Danczuk.
That takes us back once more to Labour’s North West regional operation, which has shown itself to be less than willing to deal with the local old guard in the recent past. Well, perhaps they might sit up and take notice when presented with the transcript of a short recording of another Allen Brett foot-in-mouth episode which has found its way to Zelo Street. Whatever the subject, it ends up with him talking about where to score drugs.

I kid you not. Here’s what he said. “On a serious note, the problem with Pioneer Street is one, it’s too near the houses, so the residents complain about people kicking balls into the gardens, but at the moment, if you want some drugs, I’ll send you round there”. For those unfamiliar with the area, it’s just behind Rochdale station and a short walk from buses on Oldham Road. And now with residents less than enamoured of their Council leader.

Perhaps Allen Brett thought this was another of those bits of banter. It isn’t. Whatever one’s thoughts on the “War on Drugs”, these are currently illegal substances and no-one in a position of power and responsibility should be encouraging their consumption. Labour’s North West organisation now needs to bite the Brett bullet once and for all.

The time of the Labour old guard in Rochdale was for a time, but not for all time.
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Uber Safety - TfL Needs To Act

After it was granted a licence to continue operating in London, driver and rider matching service Uber might have felt reinvigorated, emboldened even. Some of its drivers have certainly felt emboldened, but perhaps not in the way the company would like. That is because the litany of Uber vehicles being bent in road traffic accidents is becoming such that it can no longer be hidden from view - or contested.
For this, we have that small army of black cab drivers ready and willing to record not just the appalling road craft displayed by Private Hire Vehicles in the capital - the overwhelming majority of which are Uber ones - but also the aftermath of crashes. Sometimes these involve other road users. More often, they are solo efforts and totally self-inflicted.
And just remember folks, while laughing along with the sheer idiocy of many of the drivers who bent their vehicles while pretending to be up to the job, many of these crashes involved paying customers. Don’t forget that, as we start with one mildly impaled Prius captioned “Too busy sat naving again”, and see one prize specimen having a coming together with a cyclist that leaves the rear nearside door bent out of shape.
One cabbie came across another shunt: “Uber Knock Over Motorcyclist ... again! Hey @dkhos one of your ‘partners’ has had another accident in London ... looking at his satnav instead of the road as usual!” Or perhaps the driver was distracted by using that Uber app on his phone. And then there was another, described simply “Chelsea bridge north side”.
When the Metropolitan Police over in Tower Hamlets told “#ResponseTeamC dealt with an RTC on Commercial Road involving two parties that are walking wounded. Great teamwork with our colleagues from @Ldn_Ambulance and @LFBTowerHamlets”, that was another bent Prius. And what about this? “Please Observe Caution In Aldwych. A @TfLTPH Licensed #SatNavReliant Minicab Is On It’s Roof And In Several Pieces”.
Aldwych? ALDWYCH? How the merry f*** did that car get to be doing the kind of speed needed to produce a shunt like that on sodding Aldwych? Whatever. Pedestrians are not exempt from this reign of terror. “#Uber just run over someone in Brownswood Rd, Another case of looking at a sat nav & not the road”. Then we see the aftermath of another Prius bending masterclass: “Nothing a bit of gaffer tape won't fix”.
You want a reprise of the Bent White Prius? Here it comes: “another horror story #Halloween2018”. Three in a row? Matt Black Taxi is your man on the spot: “There is one common denominator here ALL are licensed by @TfL as PHV drivers. But no one in the MSM is interested in this daily carnage of #ubercrash the money keeps rolling in to the TfL coffers and they keep rolling the cars over!” Too true.
Those crashes happened in the space of a few days. One shudders to think how many went unrecorded, or how this pans out over the months and years. Seriously, if the cab trade was generating this sort of carnage, something would be done about it.

So why isn’t something being done about Uber’s lousy accident record? TfL? Mr Mayor? City Hall AMs? DfT? Don’t all shout at once.
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Quilliam - Lily Allan Calls Lawyers

Events are spinning out of control for Quilliam co-founder Maajid Nawaz. His foundation’s “research” on sexual exploitation by so-called “grooming gangs” has been not merely questioned, but dismissed. His defence of that “research” has ranged from silence to deflection. And now his bullying and dishonesty could be about to get him into serious trouble. If only he could just hold his hands up and admit Quilliam got this one wrong.
Instead, the dishonesty has had projection added to it as Nawaz flails around trying to play the victim over the whole mess - a mess entirely of his making. That occurred as he tried to blame singer and campaigner Lily Allen for his problems.
I founded @QuilliamOrg & am a Brit-Pakistani. CEO & co-author of report is @HarasRafiq another Brit-Pakistani, co-author @MunaZainab is also Brit-Pakistani. And you Lily, with your saviour-complex & pop-star privilege,want to pick on 3 Pakistanis trying to improve our own community?” Ms Allen had merely said she did not consider the Quilliam “research” to be up to the mark. She had said nothing more.
Nawaz, though, was by now also going after his fellow LBC presenter Matthew Stadlen, accusing him of bullying. Stadlen was not happy. “Excuse me? Bullying? Please withdraw that question, Maajid. I asked politely and - on your advice - about criticism of the Quilliam report. Muna and I have been in touch by DM and email and are on good terms”.
Nawaz then segued into yet another dishonest attack on Ms Allen. “Withdraw my question? I was asking whether the allegation here made was accurate, as it’s the ‘first I’ve heard of it’. Thank you for answering. I will now ask Muna. She & Haras have been viscously attacked by a mob raised by Lily Allen’s 5.6million and I will not stand for that”.
And on he went: “.@lilyallen tweets me, blocks me after 1 reply, yet she’s *still* going at me from behind her blockage. Seriously dude, enough with your white saviour complex & alternative facts. Over representation of Brit-Paks in rape-gangs is a thing. And we’re the Brit-Paks here,not you”. I will say this only once: that British people of Pakistani heritage wrote the Quilliam “research” does not mean it is right.
Ms Allen was by now tiring of Nawaz’ vicious dishonesty. “Can’t see your name here, why are you lying? And then playing the victim? You came hurling insults at me for daring to question Quilliam’s research, that’s why I blocked you, I don’t want, need or deserve to see abuse on my timeline. I’m literally not going at you, so please stop”. She then made her position crystal clear: “Literally not said anything about him”.
This was just the signal for Nawaz to double down on victimhood and projection. “When a pop star with 5.6m followers openly bullies a British Pakistani woman (working on my behalf) speaking out against gangs of organised rapists in our own community, who is a survivor of one such brief experience, forgive me for defending the weak here (clue: not the pop star)”. An exasperated Ms Allen observed “Literally just making things up now”.
One Tweeter had to point out “Ermmm Maajid with all due respect Lily has literally not made any comments about you or Muna. No one is diminishing anyone’s experience of anything”. It made no difference. Nawaz’ bullying just rolled right along.
Shame on you @lilyallen for rabble rousing your 5.6 million followers to silence this Pakistani woman and her lived experience. And shame on your posh socialist ‘activdemic’ friends in elite universities. We live this life, while you fret, preen & try to sing songs. Shame on you”. Nawaz went to an elite University.
Meanwhile, another Tweeter had seen enough, and advised Ms Allen “this is twitter harassment & borderline stalking by maajid”. She confirmed “Lawyers have been notified”.
Seriously, Lily Allen has done no more than pass one adverse comment on the Quilliam “research”, which is now being taken apart - but by others who specialise in research. Maajid Nawaz’ obsessive pursuit of Ms Allen is not merely creepy and gratuitous, it is bang out of order. He’s been put on the spot on that “research”, which is being weaponised by the far right in order to demonise Muslims - including those Nawaz claims to represent.

So perhaps he could stick to the point and answer the question. Just a thought.
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Tuesday 30 October 2018

Quilliam Grooming Gang Research ROASTED

Over the last few days, the number of voices disputing the reliability of the Quilliam Foundation’s “research” into sexual exploitation by so-called “grooming gangs” has grown, and now includes at least one high profile supporter. At the same time, Quilliam’s co-founder Maajid Nawaz has gone from highly vocal on the subject to very quiet. It is as if he has a problem responding to all or any of the criticism.
Most prominent among the critics has been UCL lecturer and researcher Dr Ella Cockbain, who was recommended to LBC host Afua Hirsch by Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain on the not unreasonable grounds that she had literally written the book on human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. She was happy to assist: “I'm very happy to discuss.Despite presenting itself as ‘academic’ ‘evidence-based’ research, the Quilliam report is a total sham. Mind boggling that they are still getting a platform to promote it”.

That is a singularly unequivocal stance, and the normally assertive Nawaz might have been expected to leap in and demand retraction on pain of possible legal action. But there has been no comeback to that assertion, nor to her response to Nawaz’ claim of slander by Lily Allen: “Nope, it’s only slander if it’s not true. The report claims to be an ‘academic’ ‘evidence-based’ study. It is in fact an exercise in bad science & has zero credibility. @lilyallen is therefore bang on the money in characterising it as ‘utterly useless’”.
Still no intervention from Nawaz. And now has come an article in which Dr Cockbain goes into more detail, telling “I’ve spoken to some incredible survivors of sexual exploitation … They’ve spoken out about their abuse at the hands of both Asian and white men … But they’ve had some horrible backlash from the far right. Things like being told, ‘It was just Asian men, wasn’t it?’ And then pure vitriol when they won’t deny the white offenders”.

She went on “No one is denying that some Asian men have committed terrible crimes and white girls have suffered abuse … I’ve seen equivalent collages of white faces, but these cases don’t seem to get nearly the same level of attention”. She “mentioned one case where victims’ parents were left frustrated after a trial of white men who had abused their children. It attracted only a fraction of the media coverage of a very similar case in the same area involving Asian men”. And victims were not always girls.
UCL research looked at records for over 9,000 children affected by sexual exploitation who had been supported by the charity Barnardos between 2004 and 2013. Ella said, ‘We found that nearly one in three were boys and one in five were black or minority ethnic’”.

And remember Rochdale? Well, “Ella also researched six major CSE cases in a book published earlier this year, including in Rochdale and Derby. She said that there was little evidence of race or religion playing a role in the abuse … Out of 43 victims across the six cases, nine girls came from black or Asian backgrounds”.
Yet the impression is given, not just by the Quilliam “research”, but also those promoting it, that it is all about British men from Pakistani backgrounds committing crimes against white girls. Dr Cockbain’s own research shows why that assertion is plain flat wrong.

Maajid Nawaz and Quilliam need to admit they might not have a monopoly on factual information and engage with the professionals. Only then will their reputation recover.
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Frances Barber’s Ultimate Meltdown

It had to happen: after so many late night Twitter wig-outs from Thesp Frances Barber, usually aimed at anyone not passing adverse comment on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, or not condemning Scary Muslims™ in the strongest terms, there had to come the ultimate Twitter meltdown. And so it has come to pass, as she has felt slighted by a passing comment from Matt Zarb Cousin. For which she also blames Owen Jones.
The exercise also included Ms Barber’s highly creative version of reality, as can be seen from the first Tweet: “Matt Zarb, I have been informed (as obviously blocked by the child) has called my views ‘repulsive‘ RT’d by Owen Jones. All because I’m a against Anti Semitism. Quite shocking”. I doubt it was that simple. But do go on.
I called out MattZarb for labelling people ‘nonces’ & ‘pedos’ who disagreed with Corbyn. He has never forgiven me. He has the skin of a new born frog. Now he’s trying for a pile on because I’m against anti semitism. Owen Jones is encouraging it. I’m livid”. He is?
Then she really got into her stride: “remember who started this fight. Outrageous little piffle causing pile ons from their brainwashed cult diminishing by the day. I’m on the right side of History. These oafs are misogynist Stalinists”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “Owen Jones bought me a curry once at my dearest friends house. You Absolute Shit trying a pile on”. Is buying someone a curry a euphemism for something bad? Asking for a friend.
But she was off and running. “You see, Eddie Marsan & I are from real Working Class roots. So when you Cadres of The Left tell us what to do,we question & debate. You don’t like that do you Owen Jones? We should shut up & listen to Stalinists from Wickamist [sic] Seumus [sic]. Fuck off”. What’s Marsan got to do with this? Who knows? “Surely the whole point of social media is to get people on board to your cause. Zarbo & Squealer have alienated 1/2 of the normal @UKLabour voters. Lol”. She’s a “normal Labour voter”?
What she was, was serious. “As you can see I’m very furious with Zarbo & Squealer. I won’t let them off lightly. It’s a vendetta now … Thankyou everyone for your support today. I know I get passionate, that’s me. But the thought of Zarbo & Squealer trying a pile on because I’m against anti semitism did it. I’m appalled by them”. What? Whatever.
I’ll probably be banned , but before that happens.. Owen Jones is a great big Cunt . Goodbye”. It was getting late by this point. Jones asked what she was on about. Big mistake. “You And Matt Zarb put your dogs on me. Reap what you sow”.
Then it had become very late indeed. So the rhetoric got correspondingly worse. “I hope those stupid shits Zarbo & Squealer know what they’ve taken on . I’m bloody livid. I won’t ever let this go. I’m on you 2 misogynistic Pratts [sic]. Anything you say from now on”.
There was only time for a late blubber at Owen Jones. “Matt Zarb has persistently sock pupetted [sic] me for 2 years. I am sick & tired of it. He attacked me, you got involved. Do you think I will sit back & say nothing? I’m appalled by you. He is appalling, I thought you were a good person”. Zarb Cousin does not, as far as is known, do sock puppets.
The time comes when some are best advised to step away from Twitter. For Frances Barber, that time passed a while back. Sad, really.
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