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Friday, 17 January 2020

Spooks Equate Greens With Far Right

A counter-terrorism briefing document, as the Guardian has discovered, has been  distributed to medical staff and teachers as part of anti-extremism briefings included Greenpeace, Peta and other non-violent groups as well as neo-Nazis … The guide … is used across England as part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence”.
This discovery comes hard on the heels of the same paper discovering that “Counter-terrorism police placed the non-violent group Extinction Rebellion (XR) on a list of extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent programme, which aims to catch those at risk of committing atrocities”.

Former independent reviewer of Prevent, Alex Carlile - a successor has still not been appointed - was unimpressed with the latter revelation, telling “The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”. This should not need to be pointed out.

And it gets worse: “the list of groups viewed as a potential concern contained in the new 24-page document includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace … and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd … Also included is Stop the Badger Cull”. Then worse still, as the range of non-violent groups included is revealed.
Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list”. All very 1960s establishment paranoia.

To put this in perspective, these are some of the far-right groups included: “Combat 18 and the National Front, as well as National Action, which has been banned for terrorist violence … [those who have adopted] religious and historical symbols used by white supremacists including ‘Odin’s Rune’, ‘SS Runes’ and ‘Thor’s Hammer’”.

John Sauven of Greenpeace has responded “Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?” Yet the Government is silent.
And by Government, that has to mean a good long look at Priti Patel, the MP now claiming to be Home Secretary. What, one has to ask, did she know about this and when? And if she didn’t know what was going on, what’s she doing in the job? Apparently, “Police said it was ‘unhelpful and misleading’ to suggest non-violent groups in the document were being smeared”. That’s the same Police who report to Ms Patel.

Branding XR a terrorist organisation was bad. Equating Greenpeace, XR, Sea Shepherd and Stop the Badger Cull with C18, the NF and National Action is worse. A lot worse.

So will Priti Patel get this particular part of her house in order? Don’t hold your breath.
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Red Roar Rebecca Rubbish ROASTED

After John F Kennedy secured the presidential nomination of the US Democratic Party in 1960, his opponents wasted no time in framing him as the Catholic candidate, playing on ancient prejudice against adherents of the Church of Rome. He could not be trusted to act in the interests of all Citizens, because he would be under the control of the Pope. So went the dog-whistle: the distrust of the “Boston Irish” writ large.
That was one of the reasons why he chose Lyndon Johnson, a protestant, as his running mate - to take the Catholic flavour - his words - from his campaign. Anti-Catholic sentiment has, as with anti-Semitism, never really gone away: even in the UK, it is an itch that some are still prepared to scratch. And with the candidacy of Becky Long Bailey for the Labour leadership, it has been scratched by anti-Labour site The Red Roar in no style at all.
Ms Long Bailey is a Catholic, to which many will shrug and respond “so what?” But there are those still susceptible to being swayed by old mistrust, so it should have surprised no-one to read “Long-Bailey backs stricter abortion laws”. The claim hinges on one expression of personal opinion, on the question of disability. Here’s what she said.
It is currently legal to terminate a pregnancy up to full-term on the grounds of disability while the upper limit is 24 weeks if there is no disability. I personally do not agree with this position and agree with the words of the Disability Rights Commission that ‘the context in which parents choose whether to have a child should be one in which disability and non-disability are valued equally’”. Did you know full-term abortion can be allowed?
It’s clearly her personal opinion, and about disability rights. But to conclude that she “backs stricter abortion laws” is over-egging the pudding. Moreover, the Red Roar claim “she would ‘play her part’ in ‘ensuring that [the Catholic Church’s] views are heard’” is not supported by any context that backs up the headline claim, and the further citing of her telling “anyone who attempts to ‘procure her own miscarriage’ is committing a criminal act and subject to a jail sentence” is no more than a factual statement.
That much was bad enough, but worse was to come as supposedly rational pundits took the Red Roar on trust. Ian Dunt, normally so knowledgeable and clued-up, Retweeted the claim without further comment. Hadley Freeman sniped “Oh thank God someone is making sure ‘the Catholic Church's views are heard’ about abortion. Truly, this just what the left needs and just what women need in the 21st century. We've all been saying it!” And Zoe Williams added “I don’t get the sense that RLB is against abortion: but this does chime with the view that she will say literally anything to get out of a spot”.
One observer had to remind everyone “Guido Fawkes claimed RLB's husband was a Multi-Millionaire Director. Turned out it wasn't true. Now a blog called Red Roar claims RLB wants restricting the law on abortion. Turns out this is not true either”. Aaron Bastani addedI’ve asked for comment from [RLB’s] team re ‘Red Roar’ story, as any journalist is meant to”. And Matt Zarb Cousin was particularly severe on Ian Dunt.

She does not, and has never, advocated for restricting the law on abortion. As a credible journalist with an actual lobby pass I’d like to think you would check your sources before spewing out bile from publications with a factional interest rather than an interest in the truth”. As with JFK, now with RLB. The Catholic scare - it’s always out there.
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Question Time Racism Ignorance Worrying

While the press coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has generated rather more heat than light, one question invariably enters: how has so much racism been allowed to enter the public discourse? Calling the Duchess “difficult” and indeed “exotic”, the latter defended with customary boorishness by Piers Morgan earlier this week, are the kinds of dog-whistles that should set alarm bells ringing. But someone is not hearing it.
Why that should be can be deduced from one exchange during yesterday evening’s edition of the BBC’s Question Time. Here, when an audience member had a significant difference of opinion with actor Laurence Fox, the majority of those in that audience who applauded did so in support of Fox dismissing the idea that the Duchess was the victim of racism. The display of ignorance should worry all of us. But it probably doesn’t.

The audience member could not have put it more directly: “The problem we’ve got with this is that Meghan has agreed to be Harry’s wife, and then the press have torn her to pieces. Let’s be really clear about what this is, and call it by its name, it’s racism. A black woman, and she has been torn to pieces”. Fox claimed it wasn’t. “It absolutely is” she countered.

We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe” Fox responded, adding that he considered the talk of racism was getting “boring”. But the audience member was not finished, and it was here that she had it right and many of her fellow audience members just didn’t get it. Addressing Fox personally, she asserted “You are a white privileged male”. There were groans. But Fox is a White Privileged Male.
I can’t help what I am”, he protested. “I was born like this. It’s an immutable characteristic, so to call be a white privileged male is to be racist [it isn’t. It really isn’t] You’re being racist”. This produced a significant amount of audience applause.

Fox had more to say on the R-Word - a brave move, sitting next to Shami Chakrabarti - telling “We need to be careful. We need to call out racism when it’s seen, when it’s obvious and when it’s there [who is making that judgment, though?] and we should stand together to condemn it. [But] We should be careful, and use racism when it’s there, and it’s obvious, and not call someone racist just cos they don’t agree with you”.

What if Fox, and those applauding him, do not hear the dog-whistle? The presence known as Otto English was not impressed with this representative of the Fox dynasty: “I'm not an actorist, some of my best friends are actors ... but boy is this Laurence Fox character stupid”. White people telling BAME people what racism is? Er, no.
And the very white complexion of so many in that audience prompted Shahmir Sanni to say what many are now thinking. “Honestly, when i say the BBC is an institution built to reinforce white supremacy, this is what I mean. They deliberately put on people that take back the work POC have been doing for decades. The producers, planners & staff are racism’s best friends”. Why is it always Question Time where this happens?

While white people get to say what racism is, and other white people dabble in low-level and gratuitous racism against POC, “tolerant and lovely” is not what this country is.

The BBC may entertain. But the educate and inform parts seem to have gone missing.
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Thursday, 16 January 2020

Tory Tax Break WON’T Fix NHS A&E Times

Today’s edition of the Murdoch Times claims that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals are making a public-spirited gesture to benefit the NHS, with the headline proclaiming “Pension tax windfall for top earners … NHS crisis plan will benefit tens of thousands”. So the rationale behind this tax break is to help the struggling NHS, right? As if. It’s another Tory giveaway for the well-off.
Look over there!

So what’s the story? “Tens of thousands of high earners will receive a pension tax windfall under plans to solve a staffing crisis amongst NHS doctors, the Times has learnt … The Treasury is preparing to give tax relief worth hundreds of millions of pounds to those earning more than £110,000. The measure will stop doctors being hit with huge bills, which are causing them to turn down extra work and harming patient care”.

There is more. “Health service leaders are pushing for further concessions, a move that could scupper the plans because ministers are unlikely to go ahead with them if they are not welcomed by the NHS as a solution … Some in Government are trying to encourage moderate doctors to put pressure on unions to compromise”.

Or, to give a more accessible translation, doctors are being encouraged to put in even longer hours, but if anyone makes a fuss the deal is off. And this, to no surprise at all, is the conclusion reached by Dan Bloom at the Mirror: “Changes to pension allowances are being considered to stop a disaster in doctor cover. But experts warn it wouldn't fix the problem - and would instead hand a break to some of the nation's highest earners”.
Look who's behind it all

Do go on. “Ex-Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb, of Royal London, told the Mirror the system may be bad - but so was the idea to fix it. He said: ‘What's reported today wouldn't tackle the problem at its source - it just tweaks the figures … We will still have this ridiculous cliff edge. We will still have people not having a clue what they owe. It will just be a slightly smaller group of people’”. So the giveaway will not solve the pension problem.

Nor does it address the more basic issue of there potentially not being enough doctors in the first place, hence Bozo The Clown telling the Commons of the intention to recruit another 6,000 GPs. And nor does it deflect from the real issue: that the Tories are trying to divide health practitioners and thereby conquer in their battle to solve the inability of the now-stretched NHS to meet A&E waiting time targets - by scrapping them.
Look what the real story turns out to be

We know the Tories are trying to do this as the story, reliably sourced, is the front page lead in today’s Guardian. This tells “Plans to scrap the four-hour A&E target have sparked a furious backlash from doctors and nurses, with some claiming it is driven by ministers’ desire to avoid negative publicity about patients facing increasingly long delays. A&E consultants led a chorus of medical opposition to the move”. Hence the Tory move.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine spokesperson pointedly observed “Rather than focus on ways around the target, we need to get back to the business of delivering on it”, with amateur Health Secretary Matt Hancock offering a feeble “We will be judged by the right targets. Targets have to be clinically appropriate”. He’s got no idea.

Trust the Tories to try and bung the better-off a tax break in order to take the heat off themselves. And trust them to make a complete Horlicks of the whole thing.
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Meghan Dad To Testify - MAYBE NOT

It has been a sad reality of the print media for many years that once one paper runs with a story, the rest of the pack, or at least those peddling a similar product, feels duty bound to run with it too. What is new with the ruckus generated by the pursuit of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is that the pack is now including broadcasters.
As Zelo Street noted recently, the court papers that form part of the legal action brought by the Duchess of Sussex against the Mail on Sunday lay bare the dishonesty and forthright bigotry that is being employed in pursuit of all things Hal and Meg. The MoS then let the world know that it would be defending the case “robustly”, and to this end the sister Daily Mail plastered the mind games all over its front page yesterday.

Central to those games, as the headline “MARKLE vs MARKLE” suggests (readers will have to be of A Certain Age to get that one) is the idea that Thomas Markle will rock up in London to testify against his daughter. As the BBC has reported, “The Duchess of Sussex's father, Thomas Markle, will testify if asked to in the court case against Meghan, the duchess' half sister has said. Samantha Markle - Mr Markle's daughter from his first marriage - told the BBC: ‘If he is called, he will come’”. Will he now?

Markle Père didn’t manage to get to her wedding, so one might have thought that this claim would have been treated with a little more scepticism. Not by the BBC, and, whisper it quietly, its Royal correspondent Jonny Diamond, whose line on the case is showing signs of being remarkably adjacent to that coming out of Northcliffe House.

Moreover, Samantha Markle’s back story does not inspire confidence in the accuracy of her claims, particularly when it comes to her half-sister. Take this snippet from the Mirror last year, claiming she “was labelled a ‘bore’ and a ‘loser’ who is ‘using the duchess' name to trick media organisers into pushing her shit book’ in an awkward radio interview”.
Or this from the Murdoch Sun, now firmly in the Meg-bashing camp. “Samantha announced that she would release her memoirs and that her sister should prepare herself for some home truths … when speaking of the wedding, she added that she was still hoping for an invitation … [then] She blasted her half-sister on Twitter after claiming to have been snubbed from the wedding”. Publicity seeking, much?

And the Daily Brexit, still claiming to be called the Express, had this last November. “Meghan Markle sister timeline: Raging feud through the years as Samantha attacks Duchess … MEGHAN MARKLE and her sister Samantha are far from close”. Well, well.

What does that tell any half-objective observer? That Samantha Markle is what might be called an unreliable witness. So today’s further episode of the Megs Mind Games from the Mail, where it champions the Duchess of Cambridge by proclaiming “Kate the dazzling Duchess shows how it’s done”, is nothing more than whistling in the wind.

The expectation in legal circles is that the MoS is going to be routed, should the case come to court. Most likely is that it will not, and that the MoS will throw in the towel, doing the best deal it can without having to shell out too many millions doing so.

So why is the BBC apparently playing along with this charade? Curiouser and curiouser.
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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Bozo Big Ben Bong Bob Bung Baloney BUSTED

[Update at end of post]

The idiocy that is Brexit has today been distilled down into one pointless exercise: a campaign to get Big Ben to chime at 2300 hours on January 31st, the hour which will make the UK’d planned departure from the European Union. The pretence that leaving the EU will restore some kind of freedom has to be maintained; therefore the moment must be celebrated. Also, the right-wing press has to have something to generate cheap copy.
As the Guardian has reported today, “Speaking to BBC One’s Breakfast on Tuesday, Johnson said the government was ‘working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong’”. The ghost of Bob Monkhouse walks among us yet. Sadly, “the House of Commons Commission, which organises the day-to-day running of parliament, said the bell was ‘unlikely’ to sound on 31 January, in part due to the estimated cost of £500,000”.

Why so costly? “Work needed would include restoring the clock chime mechanism, testing it, and building a temporary floor in the belfry to allow the work to take place. This would in turn delay the ongoing conservation work by up to four weeks, costing £100,000 alone”. Worse, “It later emerged that Johnson’s ‘plan’ for a public fund to finance the work does not exist”. The PM’s spokesman has now confirmed that minor detail.

Brexiteers were in a tailspin. The Daily Brexit, still called the Express, thundered “3,338 days since the Daily Express urged ‘Get Britain out of the EU’. When the clock strikes 11pm on January 31, our blessed freedom from the confines of Brussels will be secure and a new chapter in the great history of this nation will begin. As a potent symbol of this landmark moment, one thing is certain … BIG BEN MUST BONG FOR BREXIT”.
Any advance on this level of Wibble and Hatstand? Sadly, yes there is, and it has come from the Murdoch Sun and its non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn. “BRITS were last night urged to get behind Boris Johnson’s call for £500,000 so that Big Ben can bong to mark Brexit … Pro-Brexit billionaire and philanthropist Lord Ashcroft said he would underwrite the fund by £100,000 if it falls short”. Nige? Where’s Mr Thirsty?

You don’t have long to wait. “Brexit Party boss Nigel Farage told The Sun: ‘Big Ben must bong. If the Government aren’t prepared to pay the cost, then the people will.’” But what was this? “House of Commons chiefs yesterday turned down 60 pro-Brexit MPs’ pleas to reconnect the clock’s bells for Brexit - on grounds of spiralling cost”.

The audacity of them, wanting to use public money as efficiently as possible! “Brexiteers were left furious, claiming the move has already been authorised twice in the last two months to see the clock bong for Remembrance Sunday as well as New Year’s Eve”. And where was the comedy turn? Where was The People’s Mark François?

Here he was: “Leading Tory Eurosceptic Mark Francois yesterday pledged £1,000 of his money towards the funding. Calling for others to contribute, Mr Francois said: ‘I’m sure the BBC can help.  Perhaps the staff of the Today Programme could have a cake sale’”. As if we need to ask who’d eat them all. But this is complete tosh.

If Brexiteers think this is the hill on which they are prepared to die, heaven help the UK.
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[UPDATE 16 January 1640 hours: as the Guardian has now confirmed, the Big Ben Bongs are not going to happen on January 31st.

Indeed, 10 Downing Street, whose best-known occupant started this particular hare running, is now telling that "it will not happen even if the public raises the £500,000 to pay for it".

Mark François (note cedilla under the c) will be inconsolable. Good thing too]

Mail On Sunday Proves Meghan’s Point

Almost as if to confirm that Zelo Street was on the right track when posting on some of the content of court papers which form part of the Duchess of Sussex’s action against the publishers of the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday, the paper has now set out its defence. And in doing so, it has - perhaps unintentionally - vindicated the Sussex’s decision to step back from being front line members of the Royal Family.
While the MoS, its sister paper the Daily Mail, and most of the rest of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, have been castigating the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, especially over their reaction to the hostile barrage of press coverage, which in the case of the Duchess has all too frequently carried the tinge of racism, its declared legal defence asserts that the idea she is entitled to privacy somehow does not apply.

You read that right: while mere mortals are indeed entitled to a little privacy, the MoS has claimed that anyone Royal is not. Key to this is the assertion that they “rely on publicity about themselves and their lives to maintain the privileged positions they hold”. But, conversely, how would a reduction in that publicity hinder the maintenance of their public position? It doesn’t seem to hinder Princess Anne, for instance.

That MoS defence then moves on to the letter from the Duchess to her father Thomas Markle, whose contents were selectively published in its pages. Their stance is that she should not “have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”. Think about that: the MoS is saying that when she wrote that letter, she should have done so in the expectation of it being leaked.

Which may be another big legal ask, as is the next gem from the paper’s defence, that there is a “huge and legitimate public interest” in the private lives of the royals. Why is that interest “huge”? Because of the hunger in our free and fearless press for cheap and sensational copy which will move more copies. And what makes it “legitimate”? Er, because that same press says so. This defence already looks slightly shaky.
There will also be the usual legal mind games which those who have been in the same situation as the Duchess of Sussex will know all too well. As the Guardian has reported, “Among the evidence disclosed in the court papers are highly personal text messages between Thomas Markle and his daughter in the run-up to her wedding in May 2018 … The Mail on Sunday also suggested that if the case headed to court it would request copies of any private messages sent by Meghan to her friends in which she authorises them to speak to the media on her behalf”. Nasty? They’ve hardly got started.

What the MoS is setting out in its defence is that what it did is OK, because that is what the paper expects to be able to get away with. Hal and Meg should not expect to have any privacy because that would impact on the MoS’ business. Hence that paper and all the others kicking off like so many spoilt children at the prospect of the couple being out of reach very soon. How dare they stop the press scoring copy off of them?

In mounting this defence, then, the MoS has proved the Duchess’ point for her. But she and her family are not there merely to provide cheap copy. The press just doesn’t get it.
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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Murdochs Fall Out Over Climate Change

Last year, Rupert Murdoch asserted that “‘there are no climate change deniers’ around his company and said his business was early to commit to ‘science-based targets to limit climate change’ and was working to reduce its climate emissions”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, “In 2015 he used his Twitter account to describe himself as a ‘climate change sceptic not a denier’”.
(c) The New York Times 2020

But the recent coverage of Australia’s bushfire emergency by the Murdoch press suggests there is at least a little room for climate change denial in his empire, including, as the Guardian has noted, one Andrew Bolt, who complains of “alarmists”, promotes denialism, and “has a programme on the Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia, where he has criticised the ‘constant stream of propaganda’ on the public broadcaster ABC about the role of the climate crisis in the bushfires”. There’s always room to carp about the ABC.

This may well be what has provoked James Murdoch to call out his father’s media empire, and not for the first time recently. The Guardian again: “James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn issued a rare joint statement directly criticising his father’s businesses for their ‘ongoing denial’ on the issue, which has been reflected in the family’s newspapers repeatedly casting doubt on the link between the climate emergency and the bushfires”.

The report adds “US viewers have also heard commentary from Fox News presenters such as Laura Ingraham, who has said that ‘celebrities in the media have been pressing the narrative that the wildfires in Australia are caused by climate change’, before introducing guests who cast doubt on this interpretation”.
Those in the UK may recognise this as a combination of selectively biased presentation combined with the demonisation of celebrities, people that the Mail titles deride as “Luvvies”. They may also need reminding that the rules followed by Sky News Australia on broadcast standards are not those followed by Sky News in the UK.

Murdoch Junior’s dissent is not new. Last September, he “warned that certain unnamed media outlets are using disinformation to divide people and to shore up their own power”. Who might that have meant? “There are views I really disagree with on [Fox News Channel]”. Maybe that’s who he meant. And as the Sun in the UK is said to embody Murdoch’s views, so FNC fulfils the same role in the USA.
He also told the FT last April that he is looking to “distance himself from the conservative media outlets controlled for decades by his father”. In the 2020 Presidential campaign, he is going nowhere near Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, but instead has put his own money into “the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg”, the mayor of South Bend, IA.

But there is one good thing to come out of this family fractiousness, as the Guardian has said in conclusion: “Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp have all separately donated millions of dollars to bushfire recovery efforts in recent days, although the Daily Beast claimed the donations were made after it requested comment about James Murdoch’s statement on climate change”. Pity they had to be prompted.

The Murdoch succession may not be the easiest of deals. Just rejoice at that news.
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Nicola Sturgeon’s Puigdemont Moment

The UK, overall, voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. The problem for the Government in Westminster is that neither Scotland, nor indeed Northern Ireland, echoed that view, with both voting to Remain. Moreover, Scotland’s most popular political party, and the one currently in power in Holyrood, with a large majority of Westminster MPs, is the SNP, which is both pro-Remain and indeed pro independence.
Nicola Sturgeon

So it was no surprise when one of the first requests to land on the desk of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson after his election victory last month was from the First Minister of Scotland, wanting another referendum on independence. Nicola Sturgeon has made no secret of her objective: for Scotland to become a completely independent country, and ultimately to rejoin the EU as its own member state.

Bozo’s first tactic in dealing with this potentially serious problem was to do nothing, and this he did for almost four weeks, before today telling Ms Sturgeon where she should put her request. telling her “I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums”. And there was more.

You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 independence referendum was a 'once in a generation' vote. The people of Scotland voted decisively on that promise to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK Governments committed to respect in the Edinburgh Agreement … The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them”. Which, freely translated, means No.

No account is taken of the 2016 EU referendum result, which as Bozo knows full well is a prime mover behind Ms Sturgeon’s request. So what say she? “Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose - because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence. Tories have no positive case for the union - so all they can do is attempt to deny democracy. It will not stand”. The SNP will decide before the end of the month.
Carlos Puigdemont

And although she has “ruled out holding an unofficial referendum similar to the one in Catalonia two years ago”, the predicament in which she now finds herself is not unlike that facing Catalan leader Carlos Puigdemont at that time. He wanted a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain; the Government in Madrid would not give him one.

So he went ahead anyway. His problem was that the Madrid Government is amenable, and has been in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain, to giving autonomy to the regions, especially when it comes to local languages. But that same Government is not, and probably never will be, amenable to any move that breaks up the Kingdom of Spain.

Hence Puigdemont is now living in exile in Belgium, fearing arrest should be cross the border from France into Spain. So Nicola Sturgeon has to ask herself one question: does she feel lucky? Lucky enough to call Bozo’s bluff and take the step which many Scots already believe she should take. How would Westminster react to Scottish UDI?

Yes, the 2014 referendum was a “Once in a generation” vote. Until England and Wales decided to leave the EU. The facts have changed, and so Bozo should change his opinion. He won’t do so voluntarily. So now has come Nicola Sturgeon’s Puigdemont moment.
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Andrew Pierce - Royally Ignorant

The one thing we do know about most of what goes on in and around the Royal Family is that there is rather a lot that we do not know. Sadly, that admission of limited knowledge cannot be made by the self-appointed pundits and alleged experts: their very status hinges on their knowing what we mere plebs do not. So the pretence is maintained, the impression given that they have access. Which brings us to Andrew Pierce.
Pierce most likely has no more access to Royal circles than I do. He does, admittedly, know some journalists who may be able to inform him of goings-on over at Buck House, but on the whole he bases his expertise on the speed and volume of his North and South. Hence his truly wayward take on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
[Prince Harry] withdrawing from public life another blow for Queen after Prince Andrew's enforced departure,  but a slimmed down monarchy will be more in tune with public opinion” was his first stab at understanding Hal and Meg, but it was a wrong one. There is no intention on Hal’s part to “withdraw from public life”. Then he gets worse. A lot worse.
[Prince Harry] says he will continue to honour his duty to the Queen. Really? So why did she have to find out on TV he was quitting”. Do try and keep up. The Sussex’s had was forced by press leaks. By Pierce’s pals at the Murdoch Sun. Oh dear, now look what’s he’s claiming: “[Prince Harry] pulled off quite a feat: uniting entire dysfunctional Royal Family in anger at his cavalier announcement”. How does he know of this anger? Of course, silly me, he read it in the papers. And they didn’t know either.
But he did know, as a Daily Mail pundit, how to whip up the mob. “If Prince Harry and Meghan live in the US are you willing to put up £3million a year to pay for their security ?Shouldn’t they pay for it themselves? Join me [on LBC] from 6pm”. It’s the Duchess of Cambridge, but never the Duchess of Sussex. Why might that be?
It wouldn’t be the press smears, would it? “Most don’t care whether they go and object to £2.4m spent on their home”. Like that untrue smear. Which can only be exacerbated by such events as “Prince Charles biographer Tom Bower joins me on the  Daily show on [Mail Plus] at 5pm”. As if Bower has any more access than Pierce does. And what does “Queen’s short statement mentions family 8 times. If only Harry reflected on privileges that family has brought him”. If only the press reflected on their racist bigotry, but hey ho.
Pierce was still making it up this morning, as witness “Canadian govt may pay some of security costs. If they’re going down Disney route they can afford to pay their own”. And Canadian Govt may not. What, though, is the “Disney route”? Would Pierce care to explain that? Course he wouldn’t. He’s got another TV appearance to make.
And so it came to pass that he was once again allowed on ITV Good Morning Britain to bluster “[Prince Harry] talking [on GMB] about sadness for Queen, 93, that he wants to become part of showbiz world. He will sink without trace”. On what basis does he make the “showbiz world” claim? Making it up, smearing, whipping up the even more ignorant against someone about whom he can’t be arsed finding out the most basic of facts.

That’s Andrew Pierce: totally ignorant, malicious with it, and without any semblance of a conscience as to the consequences. Which makes him ideal Daily Mail material.
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