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Monday 31 December 2018

Nadine Dorries LEAVES Twitter

Governments are adept at sneaking out bad news during holiday periods: the information on those no-deal Brexit ferry arrangements was one such nugget which was only released once the Tories thought everyone would be in the Rub-A-Dub, becoming Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart. So one cannot blame our elected representatives for trying a little of the same themselves. Except that one back bench MP failed to avoid being rumbled.
In the run-up to Christmas, Mid-Bedfordshire’s Tory MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries told her followers that she would be taking a break from Twitter. But few expected the representative for mid-Narnia to actually quit the platform altogether. But this morning brought the news that this was indeed what she had done: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist” is all that happens when an attempt is made to access the fragrant Nadine’s feed.
No longer - unless and until she decides to reactivate her account - will the unfortunate denizens of Twitter be subjected to the pearls of wisdom emanating from the “Chairwoman, Mum to 2 westies, 3 princesses, 10 novels”, the claims that she is a best-selling author, and the hypocrisy of “posh boys who don’t know the price of a pint of milk”, while fawning over Bozza, an, er, posh boy who doesn’t know the price of a pint of milk.
No more reading “The Prime Minister calls me ‘Naydeen.’ The only other person I know who does that, is my mum. She put on a sterling performance last night. Impressive and you could only be filled with respect for someone who in the face of adversity, did that. #ChuckChequers … Actually, I should say, the PM my mum and everyone from Liverpool”. Just the odd half a million people, then.
No more reading “This now deleted tweet, sadly says so much about the broader attitude of the London centric remain campaigners - their attitude towards and regard for all those who support” in response to someone who pointed out that she was wrong (again). No sense of self-awareness (she’s as London centric as anyone in politics).
No more having her clumsily reveal “Sam, this story is really utter, total, 100% rubbish. I don’t know who has told you that, I can only think it’s someone on the payroll but it definitely was not an ERG member as was just confirmed at our meeting. We don’t know who half the names are!!” Letting the world know that the European Reform Group is such a shower that they don’t know who’s put their no confidence letters in.
No more having her denounce journalists as trolls: “Incredibly sad that desperate remain supporters and even respected journalists like @gavinesler choose to misrepresent my words and jump on the troll bandwagon”. No more seeing an elected representative resort to abuse because her intellect does not enable her to engage in informed debate.
As to why Ms Dorries has quit Twitter, that will be the subject of endless speculation. It has been put to me that she may have taken the drastic action to stop people seeing something damaging. But at least she’s gone. Thankfully.

And hopefully she won’t come back. Just rejoice at that news.
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Post-Brexit Military Bases - My Arse

As the date for Britain’s departure from the EU draws nearer, so the amount of falsehood and misinformation peddled by the pro-Brexit press and its political soul mates increases, creating what those people would like to think is sufficient background noise to distract the masses from what may be a very sudden drop from the cliff edge.
Look Uncle Arthur, I'm in the paper again!

Added to this has come the sure and certain knowledge that even if Theresa May is not on her way out now, she soon will be. Thus the manoeuvring by a variety of undeserving and wholly unsuitable candidates aiming to replace her. Thus far we have had Sajid Javid pretending not only that a few people crossing the Channel in inflatable boats is a crisis, but also that he is actually going to do something about it. He is not alone.

To demonstrate that others are also jockeying for position, yesterday brought the most magnificent slice of idiocy from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, as it provided a platform the the terminally inept Gavin “stupid boy” Williamson, who claims to be the Defence Secretary, to make claims about an era of post-Brexit military grandeur.

The article, under the by-line of Christopher “No” Hope, who was in reality merely taking dictation from the Private Pike of the cabinet, claims “Britain will open two new military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia as the country looks to step up its military presence overseas after Brexit, Gavin Williamson has revealed”. There is more.

The Defence secretary urges Britons to stop downplaying the country's influence internationally and recognise that the UK will stand tall on the world stage after leaving the European Union … In an interview with The Telegraph in his Ministry of Defence office, Mr Williamson says: ‘We have got to be so much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union’”. If only we smile a little more, everything will be all right.

But there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. For starters, membership of the European Union has no effect whatsoever on what military capability this country chooses to deploy, or indeed, where it is based. The reason Britain retreated from many post-Imperial era bases in the 1950s and 1960s had nothing to do with the EU, and everything to do with our being skint.

Opening and maintaining any significant military base thousands of miles away, as the Tel article suggests, involves the expenditure of serious amounts of money, which Britain does not have, and will not have in the foreseeable future. The story is bunk.

What makes it worse, though, is not just that Williamson knows he’s indulging in empty propagandising, but that Hope, who lays pretence to being a responsible journalist, is not challenging the SOB, but joining in with the charade. They know this is a false prospectus. So do the Tel’s editor and management. They should hang their heads in shame.

There is not going to be some great new era of British flag-waving and military greatness. But there is going to be an increasing amount of dishonest copy pretending that Brexit will be a thing of wonder, rather than the inevitable shit show. And lots of Tory posturing.

Gavin Williamson should be called out for what he is. Just another stupid boy.
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Liz Kershaw’s Little Secret

Broadcaster Liz Kershaw has been one of those enduring and endearing presences over the years, presenting music shows on a host of radio stations. As such, she has built up a following of maybe not fans, but listeners who enjoy listening to her broadcasts. Some of those listeners, though, have not taken at all kindly to Ms Kershaw’s latest pronouncements - which concern migrants arriving in the UK.
Liz Kershaw

As Zelo Street regulars will know, an average of fewer than four people a day have, since early November, attempted to cross the English Channel from France to Britain in small boats, usually inflatables. And while hundreds of rough sleepers die every year, millions of children are raised in conditions of poverty, food bank use rockets and crime soars, this is now being pushed by our free and fearless press as a “crisis”.
The numbers involved do not make a crisis. But the PA graphic shared by refugee expert Jeff Crisp shows that nine people landed at Sandgate on December 27. Liz Kershaw lives in Sandgate. And there she was, commenting on a Daily Mail article which was ranting about the response to this not-really-a-crisis: “I hope I don't have to encounter this when I go for a walk on the beach in New Years Day”. Er, WHAT?
That sounds rather like those British tourists on the Greek island of Kos who moaned about the rotten brown people spoiling their view across the harbour. And it wasn’t her first foray into this area. “What about concerns for the safety of volunteer crews of the @RNLI #Dover #Littlestone #Dungeness who didn't sign up for this? Or the people whose homes are on #Kent coast?” The RNLI didn’t sign up to rescue people? Who knew?
It got worse. “There's a nuclear power plant at Dungeness. Should we be allowing dinghies full of unidentified men to be crossing the Channel and heading to the beach near there?” Is she suggesting that people from the Middle East have expertise in sabotaging Dungeness B? A nuclear power station built to a one-off design with no similar station anywhere else in the UK, let alone the wider world? Come off it.
What is her problem? “I have no issue with asylum seekers. Just unidentified people from anywhere landing on the beach in front of my house”. French fishermen a problem, then? But she knows who the culprits are. “It's because Serbia has given visa free access to Iranians who can then cross EU freely as far as Calais”. Serbia, whose Bosnian Serb allies committed genocide against their Muslim neighbours? Yeah, right.
Also, Serbia isn’t part of the Schengen Zone. Hell, it isn’t even part of the EU, or even likely to be for many years yet. So Ms Kershaw is indulging in conspiracy mongering as well as NIMBYism and uncaring, irrational hostility to all those nasty brown people. While getting terribly defensive about it: “You know nothing about how much I care or for what or whom. You are making assumptions, getting on a bandwagon and virtue signalling”.
Perhaps she is thinking again about her pronouncements. After all, she’s deleted “This is nothing to do with regular politics. It's about personal experience and fears for your own safety. Maybe if you were on the South coast like I am now you'd have more idea of the reality of all this and not be on your high horse” and several other Tweets.

But Liz Kershaw’s reputation is right now in tatters. And it’s all her own fault.
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Seaborne Freight - Tory Deal Stinks

While the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance is kicking off over Newcastle City Council spending all of £5,000 on increasing transparency, its ideological soul mates in the Tory Party are spraying a rather larger sum up the wall on provision for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. But here the TPA is silent, showing that the idea it is sticking up for taxpayers is yet another pack of lies. But not everyone is silent about the Tory largesse.
Port of Ramsgate. Bit quiet at the moment

The no-deal preparation has included chartering ferry capacity to ease potential congestion at locations such as Dover and Calais. To no surprise at all, the two companies awarded most of this work are DFDS, which is Danish, and Brittany Ferries, which is French. But a third company, Seaborne Freight, has been awarded a £14 million contract to provide capacity at the Kent port of Ramsgate.

Problem is, Seaborne Freight has tangible assets of just £35,000. This will not even pay the deposit on a Ro-Ro ferry. Worse, Seaborne has never run a ferry service, and has so far been unable to identify one ship it intends to use in order to run one. Yet worse is that Ramsgate’s facilities impose a constraint on ship size which means very few vessels could dock there. And it seems none of those is available right now.
As the Guardian has reported, “Paul Messenger, a Conservative county councillor for Ramsgate, questioned whether the government had carried out sufficient checks on the firm, telling the BBC: ‘It has no ships and no trading history so how can due diligence be done? Why choose a company that never moved a single truck in their entire history and give them £14m? I don’t understand the logic of that.’” Quite.

Moreover, as Richard Littler has pointed out, “Seaborne shares a registered address with a law firm connected to a Mark Bamford. Mark Bamford is one of the biggest donors to the tories. Mark's brother channeled millions through an obscure company” [now confirmed it is NOT the same Mark Bamford]. On top of that, the award to Seaborne (and, indeed, DFDS and Brittany Ferries) has been made without any kind of open tendering process taking place. And it gets even worse.
If a deal is agreed with the EU in the meantime - or, indeed, if the Article 50 process is extended as a result of Theresa May’s deal being rejected by Parliament and no-deal being averted - Seaborne gets to keep some of that £14 million, WITHOUT HAVING TO ACTUALLY RUN A FERRY SERVICE. Have a think about that.

I kid you not: “The BBC understands that the three firms chosen are likely to retain a portion of their award even if their services are no longer needed, due to a deal being reached with Brussels … However, in that event, the government would then seek to sell the extra capacity back to the market”. But if a deal were to be reached, there would be no need for the extra capacity, which would therefore be worthless.
Whichever way you slice the Seaborne Freight deal, it stinks. If this deal had been done in a third world country, the right-leaning press would be crowing about incompetence and corruption. But as it’s Brexit Britain, today’s front pages have no mention of the story. At all.

Anyone would think the press is OK with that. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Sunday 30 December 2018

Julia Hartley Dooda’s Considerably Richer Than Yow

For some of those who went into rant mode at the sight of London’s Gatwick Airport brought to a standstill by the alleged flying of drones within the airfield’s perimeter, there was no reason for the frothing other than that they believed they knew better than everyone else. But for one obscenely overpaid pundit, there was an additional reason: she needed to get away at Christmas. And indulge in a little Conspicuous Consumption.
To no surprise at all, the pundit jetting away, very expensively and very publicly, was self-promotion specialist Julia Hartley Brewer, still inexplicably employed as a breakfast show host by Murdoch outlet TalkRADIO. Not for her a holiday in Spain, Portugal or Italy - how common, eh? - but a long haul flight at an expensive time of year to show that she was considerably richer than all those mugs who believe her schtick.
And just to make sure everyone knew she was going off by plane, there was a suitably snarky message to trigger her more easily led fans. “So happy to be heading to the airport and getting a break from this nonsense for a bit... #TakeABreakCaroleLuv”. Another who has problems with proper investigative journalism. No further comment necessary.
One day later came “Anyone got any spare baubles for my Christmas tree?” Look everyone, I’M HERE, it’s VERY WARM and also VERY EXPENSIVE! Got that?
Following that came “How early is too early to start on the cocktails on Christmas Day? Asking for a friend”. Look, I’M HAVING EXPENSIVE DRINKSH, because I CAN.
So where had Ms Hartley Dooda rocked up? “Meroy X mas & Happi Vew Yean from Thailand... Hope you have a good one with the people you love most”. Look, I’M IN THAILAND which is VERY EXPENSIVE but the dopey locals CAN’T DO ENGLISH!
These foreigners ought to know their place, eh? But it was a really EXPENSIVE and EXCLUSIVE getaway, and just to rub it in, there was a view familiar to aficionados of arguably the Worst Bond Film Ever. “Quiz time: name the film AND the island”. Thanks, I walked past a far more exclusive Bond film location just a few weeks ago in Lisbon*. And OHMSS was a far better film, if only because it didn’t have Roger Moore hamming it up.
Correct answers: The Man With The Golden Gun. And the small outcrop island is called Ko Ta Pu - NOT Khao Phing Kan, which is the island where I am in this pic”. Look everyone, don’t I look WONDERFUL? Er, no: the lyrics from Frank Zappa’s What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body come to mind. But she wasn’t finished yet.
Looking at Twitter from the other side of the world, you all seem very angry. Anyone fancy a snorkel to cheer yourself up? We’ve spotted two of these 1 metre long zebra moray eel beauties on our reef”. Look everyone, I’ve done something VERY EXCLUSIVE!
And she’s still at it today. Or was that yesterday? “Well, alright, if you insist. #GetInTheSea”.  Getting in the sea is so EXCLUSIVE here. Because I’ve gone somewhere VERY EXPENSIVE. That is BEYOND YOU PLEBS. It must be hell being so self-absorbed. Until the taxman catches up with her. Here’s hoping.

* Joalharia Ferreira Marques Filhos. Where Bond buys Tracy her wedding ring.
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Taxpayers Alliance Doesn’t Care About Taxpayers

Local Government has to make cuts year-on-year, thanks to the less than benevolent attitude of our not really very caring Tory administration in Westminster. And so many pundits claim to know the solution to those financial constraints. So, to show that it’s not as easy as pontificating down the pub, Newcastle City Council has provided an online budget simulator to let their Council Tax payers have a go.
This cost them no more than £5,000, which is small beer when the scale of cuts that will have to be made this year is in the region of £20 million. That makes the budget simulator’s cost just 0.025% of the cuts. But this is not enough for the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, for whom any spending by local Government is streng verboten.

The TPA would stop those working for such organisations from even having paid toilet breaks if they were in charge, in addition to their advocacy of abolishing the minimum wage and the NHS, before taking a hatchet to health and safety regulation and such tedious things as food standards, public transport and decent air quality.
Chloe Westley - still not telling who pays her salary

So it was that Chloe Westley, the TPA’s alleged “campaign manager”, decided to shoot her mouth off about the Newcastle budget simulator. As Chronicle Live has reported, “The council insists the tool is ‘great value for money’ - but a public spending pressure group criticised the spend … ‘It's not every day that you see a local council waste thousands of pounds on a project which is dedicated to expressing just how tight their budget is,’ said Chloe Westley, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance”. Bah humbug!

The TPA wants local Government to be accountable, but wants them to do it for nothing. Also, Chronicle Live got one thing wrong: the TPA is not a “public spending pressure group”. It is an Astroturf lobby group pursuing a “small state” agenda. It is ideologically committed to demonising Government - any and all Government - as part of the service it provides to its rich, greedy and cowardly backers.
Newcastle City Council could make their budget simulator available to other local authorities, thus recouping most of the cost - and the mean-spirited mouth artists of the TPA would still slag them off, especially if it meant More And Bigger Publicity Opportunities For Themselves Personally Now. They don’t want to save taxpayers money.

Indeed, John O’Shea, who is a Councillor for Acocks Green ward in Birmingham, has concluded “£5k? It is a handy little gadget that explains the complexity and range of Council work and the impact of costs. That’s a bargain. @BrumLeader should adopt it for @BhamCityCouncil”. Cost shared, money recouped, TPA absent.
If the TPA really was about both saving taxpayers money and making local Government accountable, they would have made that suggestion themselves. But they are not. Small wonder Labour MP Chi Onwurah, who represents Newcastle Central, has observed “I call that accountability, unlike the #TaxpayersAlliance who refuse to say how many members they have or who funds them”. Well, I can help with one of those points.

The TPA represents fewer than one-tenth of one per cent of UK taxpayers. It is high time that media outlets treated these frauds with the contempt they truly deserve.
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No Gong For Piers Morgan

Some of those who appear regularly on our TV screens are happy with the fame, the platform given to them, and of course securing More And Bigger Paycheques For Themselves Personally Now. Others, though, want more: awards, deference, the ability to freely blag a table at the Chiltern Firehouse, and most importantly of all, honours. They crave that gong more than anything else that fame can offer.
And when it comes to the pretence of fame, and the desire to blag tables at the Chiltern Firehouse, that can mean only one person: step forward former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, at present providing ITV’s breakfast offering Good Morning Britain with its shield against hostile publicity, while he’s not occupied brown nosing his pal Combover Crybaby Donald Trump and shouting down interviewees.
Morgan wants a gong, and despite the growing evidence that the Daily Mirror under his leadership was as much a borderline criminal enterprise as the Murdoch Sun and Screws, really believes he deserves one, if only for Services To Himself. But letting slip this craving could be even worse for his carefully cultivated image than all his other less than totally appealing habits. So he projects on to former England cricketer Alastair Cook.
Cook, having racked up more than 12,400 test runs before his retirement from international cricket, has been given a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours. Morgan doesn’t like him. Thus the projection. “A knighthood for a guy who has only the 24th best English Test batting average & was never even the best player in his own team … Cook just played the most & got rid of anyone who threatened to beat his records” he whined.
There was more. “Shane Warne. Sachin Tendulkar. Brian Lara. Sir Alastair Cook … Name one England team in which Cook was the best player. I’ll wait … Bobby Moore OBE. Sir Alastair Cook”. And responding to David Gower, “you played the Game in a way Sir Alastair could only dream about”. Whine, Sir? And on he went.
Inevitably, Morgan’s moaning had to take in his pal Kevin Pietersen (MBE). “Cook filled bars, KP emptied them. End”. It wasn’t fair! Nor was he too keen on sticking to facts, another of those tabloid habits dying hard. “I didn't think anything could be more ridiculous & undeserved than 'Sir' Alastair Cook, 34 - then I read today that Ariana Grande, 25, turned down a Damehood. Our honours system is becoming a joke”.
Not as big a joke as him, though. Especially when he let slip the real reason for his attack on Cook. Would he ever get a K? “Only if Meghan gets to be Queen & decides to make amends for ghosting me”. One of the Royal family ghosted him! HIM! The great Piers Morgan! How could they do such a thing to someone who considers himself so famous?
The yawning response to Morgan pretending he really was a star (like heck) was one Tweeter musing “Piers, someone told me you were awarded the MBE but sadly he then told me it stood for Massive Bell End”. As Q once said, “that’s putting it mildly, 007”.

It’s not about Alastair Cook’s gong, but Piers Morgan’s lack of one. And long may that continue to hold true.
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