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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

BBC Frit Of Carole Cadwalladr

The BBC, in its wisdom, has not seen fit to offer an appearance, either on television or radio, or indeed online, to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr since the occasion when she was crudely ambushed by mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott on The Andy Marr Show™. Worse, the Corporation has also not seen fit to explain why this might be, although its management has had ample opportunity to do so.
Carole Cadwalladr

This reticence, bordering on the monastic, from Lord Hall-Hall and his team, was to have been ended today, though, at the Edinburgh TV Festival. As the blurb tells, “Carole Cadwalladr, the investigative journalist who rose to international fame last year after breaking the Cambridge Analytica scandal, will be making her first appearance at the TV Festival on Wednesday”. The event is calledWho Gets A Voice?
Lord Hall-Hall. On his Manor

There is more. “In conversation with Canadian broadcast journalist Richard Gizbert from Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post, the Pulitzer-nominated writer will be discussing the responsibility of mainstream broadcasters in holding power to account, the new dark power of tech titans and new media’s involvement in public thought and polling … Cadwalladr will discuss what can be learnt and changed by keeping these dangers in the public eye and how we continue to scrutinise mainstream media”.
It seems the talk was also to have been graced by Question Time editor Hilary O’Neill, which would have given her, on behalf of the Beeb, an opportunity to explain why Ms Cadwalladr has not been asked back, while Ms Oakeshott, notoriously has - and, indeed, on Question Time. But there was bad news this morning.
While en route to Edinburgh, Ms Cadwalladr told “On way to Edinburgh TV festival to debate BBC QuestionTime editor about who gets telly time..but she cancelled & seems no-one else is available”. What a surprise, or maybe not. She was not downhearted, though, and encouraged her fans to attend: “Anyway, [Richard Gisbert] & I will be talking about these issues - minus any senior exec from BBC - regardless. If you’re at Edinburgh TV festival come & join: 12.40 in the Tinto, lunch provided. All welcome!
Ms Cadwalladr was most keen that those from within the TV industry turn up, even though those from the BBC would not. “Dear TV professionals/controllers, this session starts in 15 mins. Hope some of you make it. It’s an important subject but apparently BBC & Channel 4 has no platformed a panel debate about who gets a platform”. Indeed.
And as to why no-one from the Beeb turned up, one Twitter exchange proved instructive. After Angus Kerr asked “Carole shouldn’t you be speaking to [Rob Burley]?” - Burley is editor of the BBC’s live political programmes, including the Marr Show and Politics Live - she responded “He was asked! And was up for it but didn’t get permission to come unfortunately”. That’s a most revealing answer.
What it suggests is that word has gone out from the highest level at the Corporation not to explain its behaviour to such undeserving souls as the licence fee paying public.

It also suggests that the person being grilled should not be Ms O’Neill, or even Burley, but Lord Hall-Hall himself. Why is your firm so coy, Tone? We’re waiting.
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HS2 “Review” = Pre-Election Stunt

[Update at end of post]

As if anyone was still unaware that the Tories are readying themselves for a General Election, along has come Grant “Spiv” Shapps, inexplicably given charge of Transport by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and declared that there is to be a “review” into the HS2 project. Moreover, the options available in the wake of this alleged “review” will include cancelling the project completely.
As the BBC has reported, “The government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 - with a 'go or no-go’ decision to be made by the end of the year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said. The review will consider whether and how the project to connect London, the Midlands and northern England should proceed, looking at costs and benefits. Mr Shapps refused to rule out scrapping it entirely”. Yeah, right.

But do go on. “When asked about the billions already spent on the project, Mr Shapps said: ‘Just because you've spent a lot of money on something does not mean you should plough more and more money into it.’ He said ministers were asking the reviewers ‘just give us the facts … Go and find out all the information that's out there… genuinely what it would cost to complete this project, and then we'll be in a much better position to make that decision - go or no-go by the end of the year.’” He could find out the costs tomorrow.

By the end of the year - in other words, after the General Election, which Shapps and his pals hope to win, will be after the Press and Pundit Establishment has forgotten about it. There will, no doubt, be claims that savings have been identified here and there that would not otherwise have been identified, and then the idea of scrapping the project will be quietly binned. And there are good reasons for that.
One, the extra capacity which HS2 provides is already badly needed. The problem which HS2 addresses - getting more freight off the already overcrowded motorway network, while giving more capacity for passenger trains on the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line - will not go away merely because its existence is inconvenient to Tory politicians and their lobby group pals.

Two, the project is already at an advanced stage, with significant amounts of demolition already undertaken around London’s Euston station, and site clearance well under way around the site of the Old Oak Common hub in West London.

Three, regeneration of the Old Oak Common area is dependent on HS2 going ahead: developers have been brought on board on that premise. If Shapps, or anyone else, cans the project, the Government will face more than cancellation charges.

Four, the West Coast Partnership - the franchise to replace Virgin Trains - was let on the basis of HS2 going ahead to at least Phase 1 of the project. Bidders have already been invited to tender for the first trains for the high speed route. So that’s going to be more bills to pay in the case of cancellation. And we’re not done yet.

Five, how would Shapps explain cancellation to the Mayors, and indeed the people, of Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Merseyside? But he won’t have to.

This is a pre-election stunt. It’s more Tory dishonesty. And it will convince no-one.
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[UPDATE 1330 hours: Paul Bigland has looked over the panel chosen by Shapps for his "review", and it is clear from his analysis that this exercise is not about cancellation of the project.

There is, for instance, no-one from the screamingly anti-HS2 fringe, so no ASI, CPS, IEA or TPA, for instance. No Patrick Minford. No Ruth Lea.

Tony Berkeley, the deputy chair, has been a trenchant critic of the project in the past, but (a) he would have to persuade the rest of the panel as to the merits of his alternatives to it, and (b) he is at heart a rail freight man, and would rather like the increased capacity which HS2 Phases 1 and 2a (at least) will yield for that purpose.

Whenever a "review" is called, always look at the panel to see what result is expected]

We’re Walking Away But It’s Not Our Fault

As if to demonstrate that the adults are yet to take control of the pointless farce masquerading as the Brexit negotiations, yesterday’s bullish demands penned by our alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson - and duly rejected by the EU - have given way to the mardy strop of the UK telling anyone who will listen that it really is taking its bat home. And, as before, it’s all someone else’s fault.
Any more bright ideas, Dom?

Bozo The Clown’s letter to outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk said, more or less, that the Irish backstop should be ditched because the UK would come up with some kind of alternative arrangement that would prove acceptable. The problem for Bozo was that this was not yet in place. So he told Tusk “trust me”. Tusk, not surprisingly, declined the offer to put his trust in a congenital liar like Bozo.
Back to Square One. And so begins another futile gesture, as the BBC has reported: “Boris Johnson is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin later, where he is expected to reiterate his call for the backstop plan to be scrapped … But the EU has rejected the possibility of any changes to the backstop”. So why’s he going?
Mr Johnson said the EU's response to his demands was ‘a bit negative’ … However he said he would enter Brexit talks with ‘a lot of oomph’ and there was ‘a real sense that something needs to be done’ with the backstop”. But there won’t be any Brexit talks with the German leader. At least, not the kind that will move the process forward.
So begins the next stage in the combination of bluff and blame. First the bluff, as has featured on several front pages this morning, from MetroWE SLASH EU TIES IN TEN DAYS”, to the Express’BRITAIN STARTS TO WALK AWAY FROM EU”, to the TelegraphBrexit starts ‘in 10 days’ as envoys told to break ties”, with the Times adding “Rebels can’t halt no-deal, EU warned by Johnson”. We’re leaving and we really mean it!
Over in Brussels and Strasbourg, all that can be heard are the combined sounds of crickets and tumbleweed. As the Guardian’s Jennifer Rankin has observed, “UK has given its vote to Finland (current EU presidency holder) meaning its absence shouldn't block EU decisions. In other words - give up control”. And then has come the blame game.
Once again, this involves our free and fearless press lying about the EU in a pointless bid to keep public opinion behind the Bozo cause. That lying is typified by former Theresa May √©minence grise Nick Timothy claiming “Varadkar can blame Britain all he likes - but he is the real threat to peace”. He goes on to tell “the Taoiseach’s hardline stance on the backstop risks bringing back a hard border and destabilising the Good Friday Agreement”.
This is the most flagrant spreading of bullshit. The line taken is the EU’s line, and is not taken by member states in isolation. The bluff - walking away prematurely from EU meetings - will have no effect at all. The blame game will be similarly ineffective. The nation state-level game of chicken war-gamed by Bozo’s chief polecat Dominic Cummings has not worked, is not working, and is not going to work. Full stop, end of story.
What we have here is the ultimate toxic combination of ineptitude, brinkmanship, bluster, dishonesty, delusion and dereliction of duty. Our only hope is that the grownups finally agree to get their act together - and end the idiocy. For good.
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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Spiked Emboldens Right Wing Violence

It was inevitable, with the certainty of night following day, that after pundit and campaigner Owen Jones was jumped by four men outside an Islington pub in the early hours of last Saturday morning, there would be a steady stream of right-leaning pundits claiming that it didn’t really happen, wasn’t indicative of what Jones said it was, or that he and his fellow Rotten Lefties™ were somehow using the attack as an assault on freedom of speech.
In the last category, that meant the inhabitants of the planet Spiked, so titled because it should have been many years ago. It also meant another dirge from Brendan O’Neill, this time titledWho’s really demonising journalists? The attack on Owen Jones was outrageous. So is the use of the attack to demonise the tabloid press”. The attack has been used to demonise the tabloid press? When did that happen?

Ah, but we have clearly not all been tuned in as Bren has. “He claims his attackers were far-right activists. And he says such far-right activists have been emboldened by ‘people in the mainstream media who deliberately stoke tensions, who demonise minorities and who demonise the left’ … His target was clearly the tabloid press”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
He said ‘We should just be honest about it. We live in a society where on the front pages of newspapers you have things like “enemies of the people”, “traitors”, “saboteurs” - that’s how people are discussed in politics.’” O’Neill is not pleased. And he is not accurate, either: “Without evidence, this claim that the red-top press is partly to blame for violent assaults looks like little more than middle-class prejudice”.

Headlines like “Enemies of the people” and “Saboteurs” were coined by the Daily Mail. The Mail is not a red-top. But then he sells the pass in no style at all, talking of those who read said papers “who are presumed to be so fickle, so easily warped by words, that a few spicy headlines can convince them to wallop a Guardian columnist outside a pub”.
A few spicy headlines. No, Bren. Just no. And not just red-tops. Not even just tabloids. The barrage of Islamophobia (and other forms of racism, including the routine demonisation of Diane Abbott and the Telegraph’s recent lapse into anti-Semitism), Europhobia, anti-Scots, anti-Left, homophobia, poor-bashing, disabled-bashing, benefit recipient bashing, this has been going on for decades. It is so blatant, even a Spiked pundit might have noticed.

After the Twitter teaser of O’Neill’s rant told “Using a random assault to damage your political opponents is cheap and cynical”, Louise Raw, who you can tell as she’s a Doctor, had had enough. “Jones has had threats from fascists for years. Stewards from [UAF] had to fight off scumbags trying to attack him at the People’s Assembly rally this year-Jones was spat on, called a bent c***, fascists chanted about lynching him. Spiked’s abetting of the Far Right is a disgrace”. Homophobia. Anti-left. Alleged “patriots”.
And all that the great Brendan O’Neill can do is to snivel about “A few spicy headlines”. He missed the Telegraph going after George Soros, the Times on “Muslim fostering”, the Mail monstering Trans people, the Sun on “The Muslim Problem”, any or all of them demonising anyone and everyone in favour of remaining within the EU, and the constant ratcheting-up of “othering”, hatred, intolerance, and yes, the forthright bigotry.

If the cap fits, Brendan O’Neill, perhaps it’s time for your pals to start wearing it.
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Tories Say Work Until You Die

Only the Tory Party, in its currently delusional state, could imagine that those voters who put it in power will continue to do so come what may, whatever hardships are meted out to them by the people they supported. Only those comfortable enough not to know what tightening belts really means could urge it on others. And only those who truly care about no-one but themselves could punish the most vulnerable in society.
The Tories have secured power because older voters have, time and again, been the group that not only turns out to vote, but votes mostly for them. Those over 65 have their state pensions; many also have the occupational pensions that are being progressively denied to younger voters. The grey vote has done all right; the Tories have done all right by the grey vote. This is not hard to understand. Except for the Tories.

So it is that the Tories, urged on by Iain Duncan Cough, are preparing to royally shaft the very group of voters that has sustained them in power. While maintaining that a report from the Centre for Social Justice is not and will not become Government policy, it is clear that Duncan Cough believes he has support within his own party for its core proposal - to raise the state pension age to 75, and to do it sooner rather than later.
Continuing the Tories’ propensity to the Orwellian, Duncan Cough has told “Removing barriers for older people to working longer has the potential to improve health and wellbeing, increase retirement savings & ensure the full functioning of public services for all. CSJ report argues for more support for older workers: better healthcare support”. Removing barriers to driving the elderly into the ground clearly has real potential.

But do go on. “Increased access to flexible working, better opportunities for training, employer-led Mid-Life MOT & implementation of an ‘Age Confident’ scheme. PROVIDED that this support is in place, the report proposes an increase in the State Pension Age to 75 by 2035”. He even has the brass neck to sign off with the hashtag #ageingconfidently.
What the NHS does already - “Mid-Life MOT” - is repackaged as some kind of bonus, a benefit in kind. Perhaps he will propose taxing it next. The Newspeak in the CSJ’s report is truly magnificent in its heartless reduction of the elderly to mere economic cyphers: “As we prepare for the future, we must prioritise increasing the opportunity to work for this demographic to reduce involuntary worklessness”. Eliminating retirement, it means.

There is more. “For the vulnerable and marginalised, a job offers the first step away from state dependence, social marginalisation and personal destitution”. Those who wish to retire are now “marginalised” and “destitute”. But they do realise that this proposal may meet with some opposition, given the intention to screw over the older generation.
So out comes “While this might seem contrary to a long-standing compassionate attitude to an older generation that have paid their way in the world and deserve to be looked after, we do not believe it should be”. It is, like so much else in Tory land, a case of belief. Just like Brexit, poverty, homelessness and community cohesion. We need only to believe, and then the idea of driving the elderly into the ground to save a few bob will be accepted.

At least Duncan Cough didn’t say “Work Makes You Free”. Well, not yet, anyway.
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Backstop Goes Nineteen Eighty-Four

War is peace … Freedom is slavery … Ignorance is strength. Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”. All of this has been understood by the presence now driving the UK’s Brexit discussions with the EU, and driving them inexorably towards the cliff of No Deal. That individual, moreover, is not the Prime Minister. It is Dominic Cummings.
The real power at 10 Downing Street ...

It is Cummings who effectively dictated the letter that our alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has sent to European Council President Donald Tusk. The letter that contains the ultimate Doublethink. The Doublethink that asserts that a device devised by a democratically elected Government, and signed off by its Prime Minister and cabinet, is undemocratic. Worse, that device is now anti-democratic.
... his patsy ...

The Johnson and Cummings Doublespeak holds that this device - the so-called Irish backstop - will threaten the Good Friday Accords, even though it has been devised to protect the Good Friday Accords. That which Orwell laid out in his dystopian vision of the future has become reality. But it is reality only in the mind of Cummings, who is now, frighteningly but decisively, running a negotiation which will not take place.
... the recently dictated letter ...

This is known by anyone who has watched the UK’s Government fail utterly to grasp the reality of its position. Who has watched as the Press and Pundit Establishment attempt to reimagine that reality. The reimagining continues today, as the Murdoch Times tells readers “Johnson gives EU his Brexit demands”. He is in no position to demand anything from the EU. But to admit that reality would mean accepting it.
... the resulting propaganda ...

The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph claims “Johnson tears up backstop in talks push”, yet he cannot “tear up” anything. Moreover, there will be no talks until the backstop is either accepted, or satisfactory alternative arrangements are put in place.
... in all its delusion ...

The demands in Johnson’s letter have already been rejected by Dublin, as Sebastian Payne of the FT has told: “Dublin rejects Boris Johnson’s letter … ‘Unfortunately this letter does not set out what the so called 'alternative arrangements' could or would be. Unless and until there are viable alternatives the need for the backstop insurance policy is clear,’ said a senior govt figure”. The demands will be rejected by the EU in turn.
... and the chill wind of reality ...

Peter Foster - the Telegraph’s Europe Editor - asks “So what does this letter really tell us? That the U.K. is not serious about a renegotiation here. Indeed all the strategy is - led by Cummings himself - about how to lead a sham negotiation, per three sources privy to the chat”. Negotiation is not negotiation. Seriousness is not serious.
... as the whole thing unravels

The detachment from reality has been shown by the perpetually thirty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have clearly been passed details of Cummings’ thinking. And it makes frightening reading: “it remains the UK’s intention to deliver a deal that can pass through Parliament … Stephen Barclay’s DExEU is laying the groundwork for negotiations to reopen in four weeks’ time. The Government is not expecting the EU’s united front to crack until they see Remainer attempts to thwart the UK leaving on 31st October fail at the beginning of September”. A crack that won’t appear. Sheer delusion.

It’s not really Nineteen Eighty-Four, though. That was fiction. This is the grim reality.
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Monday, 19 August 2019

Brexit Party’s Anti-Semitism Crisis

After Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice began legal proceedings against Femi Oluwole for asking “How have we allowed the Brexit Party to be seen as a tolerant party when its Chairman, Richard Tice, founded an overtly anti-Jewish organisation?”, it was clear that the latest vehicle for the personal advancement of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was sensitive to bigotry related accusations. They must be positively smarting today.
That is because Hope Not Hate has revealedtwo Brexit Party MEPs and a prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) have appeared on the Richie Allen Show, a David Icke-affiliated radio broadcast that serves as an online platform for antisemitic conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers”. Whoops! And there was more.

Ann Widdecombe MEP appeared on the show three times between August 2017 and April 2019, David Bull MEP appeared on the show as recently as 30 April 2019, and Stuart Waiton, PPC for Dundee West and an unsuccessful MEP candidate in Scotland, made five appearances between 27 June 2018 and 9 May 2019”. Bull has also been adopted as the party’s PPC for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.
Squeaky InfoWars baggage finger up the bum time

So what does this show get up to? “Allen has also hosted numerous antisemites and Holocaust deniers on his show, and has himself questioned the numbers of Jews that died in the Holocaust. Brexit Party figures have appeared on the same episodes as racist and antisemitic guests, such as alt-right white nationalist Lana Lokteff, and antisemitic 9/11 ‘Truther’ Kevin Barrett”. There was also bad news for Widders.

Widdecombe’s first appearance came on 15 August 2017, while the show was still broadcast on [David] Icke’s website. The following guest on that episode was Kevin Barrett, a regular on both Allen’s show and on the Iranian state network PressTV, and a contributor to the antisemitic conspiracy theory magazine American Free Press, founded by the nazi WIllis Carto. Barrett, who believes that Israeli plotters were behind 9/11, has also questioned the Holocaust”. And how about David Bull?
Bull appeared on the show on 30 April 2019, tweeting that the experience was a ‘pleasure’ and linking to his interview via the website Conspiracy Daily Update (a site which contains numerous links to the show of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and nazi Mark Collett) … The following guest on the episode was Lana Lokteff, the American white nationalist and co-host of Red Ice Radio, the premier media outlet of the alt-right”.

All that comes on top of Farage appearing on Alex Jones’ InfoWars - from the LBC studio, with the branding clearly visible. This is what Mr Thirsty told Jones about “the left”: “They hate Christianity. They deny absolutely our Judeo-Christian culture [?] … which … are the roots of our nations and our civilisation … and don’t forget Alex, they want to abolish the nation state! They want to replace it with a Globalist project [anti-Semitic dog whistle] and the European Union is the prototype for the New World Order”.
The more the investigations dig, the more highly unfortunate details they unearth. Will Tice be suing Hope Not Hate for exposing the wacko wanderings of his MEPs? Or does he wait until the next MEP or PPC is exposed as not quite as pure as the driven snow?

The Brexit Party may not deal in anti-Semitism. But you can see it from there.
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Guido Fawked - Conned By Twitter Joke

What many already knew about the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - and many more are about to find out - is that this is an operation that does not function on the highest intellectual plateau. Staines is not merely a vindictive bully, he is also a vain and basically stupid individual, as his latest faux pas has shown.
The Great Guido wanted the idea that a Celtic supporter had enjoyed a pro-IRA singalong with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to be true. It was, as such things tend to be, too good to be true. But in he waded: “The Celtic supporter who said he had a pro-IRA sing-a-long with [Jeremy Corbyn] has protected his account... too late”.
Yes, the Fawkes massive had struck once more! But one Celtic supporter knew that Staines had been suckered by a Scottish Twitter joke, and said so. “Alexa : Show me a gullible moron … This is fantastic stupidity and absolutely highlights why you should never listen to idiots like this”. And there was more in the same vein.
Richard Chambers of Virgin Media News replied “So you *actually* think Jeremy Corbyn did a bass line air-guitar solo? You've been sold a cod here. Do you fancy buying some magic beans?” Hannah al-Othman of BuzzFeed UK warned “You’ve been had mate. You’ve dipped your toe into Scottish football twitter and you’re already out of your depth”.
And talking of Scottish football Twitter, it was not long before someone lapsed into the vernacular: “ya tadger, done up like a kipper by Paul the Tim”. Kieran Hurley added “delete your account you embarrassment”. Bill Bain put Staines straight: “Are you seriously suggesting Jeremy Corbyn performed an air-guitar bass solo to the final verse of Broad Black Brimmer while chanting along merrily in public with some random guy he’s just met? DB is having a laugh. We do this in Scotland. If we didn’t, the tears would never end”.
Well, quite. Another Scots voice advised “Jesus Christ, delete this before anyone else sees it”, while another couldn’t quite believe the level of Staines’ gullibility: “This is getting quite funny. I'm amazed at the amount of eejits that are believing it”. Staines’ past also got a mention, but not how he might like: “Paul, why did you get involved with Acid House?
Alan Shaw tried to let Staines down gently. “Aw no Murdo. You’ve not fallen for this either. The guy in the picture is Paul … The owner of that twitter account is not Paul … Jeremy Corbyn was at the game and no, he did not do an air guitar solo to any song … Paul asked Jeremy for a photo after the game”. Perhaps it was sinking in now, as one Tweeter reminded The Great Guido “The empire’s gone Guido, get over it”.
The Fawkes rabble has been conned by a Twitter joke, such is the desire to find dirt they can use against Corbyn. And now that their level of gullibility has been so handsomely demonstrated, there will be plenty more queuing up to con them rotten.

It’s not Woodward and Bernstein - more Dumb and Dumber. Another fine mess.
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