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Monday 31 August 2020

Matt Chorley Ha Ha Ha

If Young Dave was unable to impose his will on an electorate that had previously voted him into power with an overall majority, the chances of a Murdoch hack doing likewise would be not unadjacent to zero. But this thought was not allowed to enter earlier today when the obscenely overrated Matt Chorley did a poll during his latest Times Radio appearance to let the public choose the best Prime Minister we never had.

Please don't fire me, Mr Murdoch

He conducted the poll via an open Twitter feed - and you can’t fix an open Twitter poll, no way, no how - with voters given 16 names to choose from. In the first “quarter final” round, twelve of them - David Miliband, Alan Johnson, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins, Barbara Castle, Michael Portillo, Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Robin Cook, Mo Mowlam and Ed Miliband - were eliminated. So who was left?

The four names in the frame were Ken Clarke, Charles Kennedy, Paddy Ashdown, and Jeremy Corbyn. And this is when Chorley must have realised he was not in control of the situation, whatever he blustered into the microphone. While supporters of Charles Kennedy overhauled an early Ken Clarke lead, those backing Jeremy Corbyn ensured their man was more than eight and a half points clear of Paddy Ashdown.

Over 9,000 had voted in that “semi final”. More than 12,000 then voted in the final to see Jezza romp home by more than 15 points. The Tweeter known as The Prole Star was less than authentically sympathetic. “Matt Chorley's hiding in the Times Radio toilets now, crying. Hope you're all proud of yourselves … Note to Matt: Don't hold polls if you don't want results”. Why might Chorley have thought it would turn out differently?

Ah well. After the result was declared, and Chorley failed to congratulate the winner, he told his followers “I’ll just leave this here”, revealing the result of a YouGov poll which put Corbyn in last place among 17 potential PMs that never were. So, like Theresa May, he believed what YouGov told him. And, like Treeza, he got more than he bargained for.

The Prole Star returned to the fray, responding “Times readers selected by YouGov perform as required shocker! We'll just leave THIS here”. Readers of a Murdoch propaganda sheet are fed a constant diet of severely negative “information” about a party leader and as a result believe that he would have made a bad PM No Shock Horror.

All that Chorley could muster after that was “I'd like to thank everyone who enjoyed Times Radio World Cup of Best PMs We Never Had for what it was: a bit of Bank Holiday fun. But a special thank you to the Corbynistas who despite finally seeing their absolute boi win something have totally lost their shit. You're welcome”. He’s all heart.

It was left to the Tweeter known as Tom London to make the obvious point: “40% and then 32% of the electorate voted for Corbyn in 2017 and then 2019. Are we supporters not welcome as listeners to your new Murdoch-owned radio station? Are you as blind to the political needs and wishes of millions in the UK as the Times itself?

Murdoch hacks are used to the lower orders not being able to fire back. This Twitter malarkey must come as a terrible shock to them. I’ll just leave THAT one there.

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Victoria Prentis - You’re A Clown

The Parliamentary seat of Banbury, also known as North Oxfordshire, has returned a Tory MP since 1922, so can be considered safe territory for the party. That is the good Tory news: the bad news is that the current incumbent is Victoria Prentis, who has risen to the giddy heights of fisheries minister, without, it seems, understanding the finer points of fishing.

Victoria Prentis

As part of her duties, as the Defra website has told, “Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis today (Tuesday 25 August) visited Tenby, where she met representatives from the fisheries and seafood sector to learn first-hand about the experiences of this resilient coastal community … Minister Prentis met with Harbour Master, Chris Salisbury, and local fishermen to discussed safety at sea - an important issue for all UK fishing communities - and was shown some of the most vital species to the industry, including lobster, crab, whelk, sea bass, scallops and locally-grown oysters”. Most interesting.

Mackerel (not caught by Victoria Prentis)

There was more. “The Fisheries Minister reaffirmed her commitment to supporting all parts of the UK in overcoming the hardship brought by the pandemic, and to taking full advantage of the opportunities available to the seafood and fisheries sectors as we leave the outdated Common Fisheries Policy”. The Defra Twitter feed posted on the visit.

After telling “Wales has an extraordinary wealth of seafood species and fisheries expertise. I am thankful for witnessing first-hand the resilience of the fishing community in Tenby”, she added “A really enjoyable visit today The Fisheries Bill gives the UK powers to control our waters, set fishing opportunities and reform fisheries management. It will also give fresh powers to the DAs and communities like Tenby”. She was, it seems, on a roll,

Until, that is, she returned to the subject and told anyone not yet asleep “Getting in the mood for the fish bill next week with a good day catching mackerel off the Pembrokeshire coast”. There, was, though, a problem: she would not be catching any mackerel, or indeed any other fish, with a rod that did not have a line. And hers didn’t.

The people at Evolve Politics helpfully magnified the relevant part of her photo, showing the reel bereft of anything resembling a line, and asked simply “Why you lyin”. Worse, as Mike Hind pointed out, she was doing this as part of her duties as an MP - meaning We The People were paying. “British taxpayers are funding you to pretend you're fishing”.

Also, her constituency is rather a long way from the Pembrokeshire coast, as Nick Stevenson observed: “‘Of course, Banbury is most famous for its mackerel smokers.’ Victoria's Book of Secret Landlocked North Oxfordshire”. There we are, heading into an uncertain post-Brexit future, and this is the level of ministerial expertise on display.

One way of preserving fish stocks, mind. Look on the bright side.

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Piers Corbyn Versus The Polecat

There was an anti-lockdown rally in London at the weekend. Given that thousands of people attended, it was not a difficult call for the Metropolitan Police to make: the rally was judged to be in blatant contravention of the law which restricts gatherings to a maximum of 30 people. As a result, a fine of £10,000 has been levied on the organiser. The individual receiving the fixed penalty notice was one Piers Corbyn.

Piers Corbyn

Now, Piers Corbyn, whom the Guardian describes with much restraint as a “weather forecaster and climate change denier”, is so wacko he is off the scale. His appreciation of meteorology - the “weather forecaster” part of his skill set - is at the very least highly questionable. He appears prone to indulging the followers of conspiracy theories that should have any rational human being moving rapidly in the direction of away.

And yet, and yet: few who were not already in tune with the ideas he espouses, or indeed those favoured by David Icke, his co-host at the London event, will have been persuaded that dispensing with social distancing rules and the wearing of face coverings, and treating the Coronavirus pandemic as some kind of conspiracy in itself, a means for Government to exert control over the people and little else, will have been converted to his cause.

As the Guardian report tells, Corbyn was arrested at the end of the rally: “Corbyn said he was held for 10 hours by police and told officers he and other organisers had filled out all the necessary risk assessments and spent two weeks negotiating with Scotland Yard over the event. He said he planned to challenge the fixed penalty notice in court”.

Compare and contrast, as they say: someone else rather more prominent in the public gaze broke the law blatantly not so long ago, and although his was nothing to do with a mass gathering, the effect on public perception of how the pandemic was being handled was far, far more wide-reaching than Piers Corbyn last weekend.

That, of course, was chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings finding himself falling ill, believing his wife to also have Covid-19 symptoms, then packing themselves and their young child in his car and driving more than 250 miles north to Durham, potentially spreading the virus as they went. He didn’t even get a slap on the wrist.

Nor was he censured - other than in the court of public opinion - for then driving his family over to Barnard Castle to enjoy a day out, on the lame pretext that he was “testing his eyesight”. For the Polecat, there was even a press call in the Downing Street rose garden to con the pundits rotten. He was not fined £10,000: in fact, he was not fined at all.

Cummings’ actions, that no Police action was taken, and that he was not admonished by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, had a severely negative effect on public perception. Many who had obeyed lockdown rules were revulsed. Many others asked why they should follow the rules if the Polecat could flout them with impunity.

Yes, Piers Corbyn is a fool who deliberately flouted the law, and yes, he should have known that there were potential consequences for so doing. But what Dominic Cummings did, and got away with, has arguably caused more widespread damage.

It’s almost as if some people are above the law. And that’s not good enough.

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Sunday 30 August 2020

Anti-Maskers Bring Out The Nazis

Those supposed lockdown sceptics - for which, read anti-lockdown clingers to any raft of batshit conspiracy theories going - held a rally yesterday in central London. Gathering in Trafalgar Square, the assembled unbelievers were addressed by such level-headed luminaries as David Icke and Piers Corbyn. This, it was proclaimed, was the people reclaiming their freedom. Including some less than totally savoury hangers-on.

There, untroubled by criticism, or indeed intervention of any kind, was a very large fascist flag and its proud owner. Joe Mulhall of Hope Not Hate observed “Some ‘interesting’ characters at the London anti-lockdown/David Icke event”. Hanna Ines Flint had more.

The British Union of Fascists was banned by the government in 1940 because of its Nazi support and the increasingly violent acts of its members. 80 years later, its symbol of Antisemitism and Hate is being flown freely in Trafalgar Square. This flag should be illegal”. Bethany Usher added “It’s the child standing beside it that breaks my heart. The British union of Fascists now flying flags again on the streets of Britain, fuelled by a right wing public discourse and news media that has convinced a nation the real threat is the ‘woke’ left. Devastating”. The return of 1930s fascism. Unchallenged.

One Tweeter, having noted “What a score getting David 'lizards' Icke and Piers 'myth of man-made global warming' Corbyn on the same stage!” then confirmed they, too, had seen That Flag. “Retro revival with the British Union of Fascists”. Another observer mused “I wonder how many of the 'Marchers for Freedom' realised they were marching under the flag of Moseley's British Union of Fascists?” Except the flag now has a new owner.

Reminder - British Union of Fascists no longer exist. The flag has been appropriated by a newer and equally vile group called the New British Union. They were in London yesterday and are here on Twitter. If you want to bash some fash you can find them”. And the slogan of the New British Union? “Restoring faith in fascism”. Itchy right arm time once more!

All of which caused Sunder Katwala to question Simon Dolan, who wants to “Keep Britain Free”. “Simon - it seems a shame none of your speakers or protestors seemed to do anything to challenge those flying a British Union of Fascists flag. Why was this? Did people not notice - or not know what it was? Are Fascists welcome at your protests? Have you criticised them today?” Dolan’s response is not known.

That’s interesting. Because one eagle-eyed individual recognised the flag’s owner. “The man with the British Union of Fascists flag was a regular pro-Brexit protestor outside parliament at Carriage Gates. His flag of preference then was the St. George's Cross”. And Louise Raw, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, reckoned Gary Raikes was his name. “This you, Gary? And the little poster you had made of your face?

That piece of detective work didn’t take so long. So what kept the “Keep Britain Free” crowd? David Icke’s Wikipedia entry includesIcke claims that the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is genuine … Icke claims that Jews themselves are to blame for antisemitism (a classic Nazi claim that can be traced to Adolf Hitler)”.

But this is a complete coincidence. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

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Robbie Gibb - BBC Wrecker Redux

Hardly had the deeply unpleasant former Sun editor Kelvin McFilth let the world know that a new 24-hour news broadcaster, a supposed rival to the BBC and Sky News, was in preparation than the story broke properly: there were two such beasts, and both would soon be ready to air. One had the backing of the Murdoch mafiosi; the other, GB News, was likely to have links with Discovery. But who was behind it?

Now, thanks to his inability to avoid the promotion of Himself, we know that The Man Who Would Trash The Beeb is, er, the man who when he was at the Beeb did plenty of the groundwork. Through his contacts at Associated Newspapers - for whom he has written several comment pieces recently - Robbie Gibb has let it be known that it is he.

So it was that the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday put the story, such as it was, on its front page today, thundering “TOP TORY LAUNCHES TV RIVAL TO ‘WOKE, WET’ BBC … Murdoch also plans news channel in wake of Rule Britannia [sic] debacle”. That Gibb is the most likely source for the story - and probably the “TV Source” mentioned within it - is confirmed by his being undeservedly described as a “Top Tory”.

As the saying goes, “Where MacGregor sits, that is the head of the table”. Robbie Gibb is a proper pound shop MacGregor. The MoS tells readers “Sir Robbie Gibb - who was a senior BBC executive before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications at No 10 - is spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News”. Tell us, Robs, just how brilliantly you performed in spinning for Treeza? Maybe not, eh? So what’s the GB News deal?

Last night a source close to GB News [R Gibb (no relation)] said: ‘The channel will be a truly impartial source of news, unlike the woke, wet BBC. It will deliver the facts, not opinion dressed up as news. Everyone who works for GB News will have total commitment to quality journalism, to factual reporting and to impartiality.’” Ri-i-i-ight.

Robbie Gibb

There’s just one problem here: when Gibb spent all that time at the BBC, imposing his own particular brand of being “truly impartial” and delivering “facts, not opinion dressed up as news”, it set the Corporation on a long, downward slope. The false balancing of expert analysis with someone, anyone prepared to gainsay what had been put forward can be traced back to his tenure. Here’s an expert, and here’s Darren Grimes.

Robbie Gibb’s BBC legacy is programmes like the Daily and Sunday Politics, where Andrew Neil could use the BBC’s name as cover for pushing climate change denialism, where Neil could tag-team with political editor Laura Kuenssberg to have a junior shadow minister resign live on air in order to give the Tories an advantage at PMQs, and where Ms Kuenssberg effectively took dictation from Matthew Elliott on Vote Leave’s lawbreaking.

A legacy where the discovery of data manipulation by the likes of Cambridge Analytica could be shouted down by mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott. A legacy that has enabled a succession of bad faith actors to burnish their non-existent credentials by being invited to provide more of that faux balance, say the unsayable, be a little different, a little “edgy”.

And having set BBC News and Current Affairs on the downward slope, there is Robbie Gibb waiting to be given licence to return and finish it off. Which his pals in the right-wing press will conveniently blame on, er, the Beeb itself. Nice work if you can get it.

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Top Six - August 30

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I’ve completely given up trying to find any more domestic stuff to do later. So there.

6 Dan Wootton - A Lying Shit Proms conductor gets threats and abuse - after he lies about her.

5 Murdoch Corbyn Hatchet Job FLOPS Attack on his wife unravels as reality is revealed.

4 This Bloke Came Up To David Baddiel The Gammonati miss the point - then totally lose their shit.

3 Nigel Farage - The Mask Slips He’s not a patriot - he’s just a racist bigot.

2 Abusive Tory Is Now A Victim Parliamentary aide claims harassment - to deflect from her breaking her code of conduct.

1 Boris - Press Sitting On Affair Story Another appearance on the Top Six for this post from June 2019 - when Bozo had his bust-up with partner Carrie Symonds, the word was that he had been carrying on a relationship with another woman. The press knew. So did anyone who subscribed to Popbitch. Bip bip!

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday 29 August 2020

Fox News UK - On Its Way

The news first broke after the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth told his followers last week “Hear that Discovery (alongside a £20million investment from Murdoch) are launching a TV news station in the New Year called GB News. Andrew Neil and Nigel Farage due to sign. Taking on the quite dreadful Sky News. More people see my rear end than watch Kay Burley at breakfast”. Kel had his information garbled, but the general thrust was correct.

It can't be like this ...

This would, effectively, be a UK version of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), which is a hugely profitable and effective right-wing propaganda machine for the Murdoch mafiosi. So let’s look at what Kel’s garbled info looks like in reality, as revealed by Jim Waterson over at the Guardian. For starters, there are two rivals ready to launch.

One group is promising a news channel ‘distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents’ and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name ‘GB News’ … A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes … Both are pitching to a perceived gap in the market”.

As for the presence of Discovery, “Sources with knowledge of the project suggested GB News was in discussions with Discovery about a tie-up, with the potential for an announcement in September”. However, and here we encounter a significantly-sized however, “The challenge both projects face is the UK’s strict broadcast rules on due impartiality, enforced by the media regulator”. Let’s look at how FNC tackles that one.

The Fox News modus operandi was laid out by now former host Bill O’Reilly in a discussion with Jon Stewart: it was, he posited, like the two sections of a newspaper - the straight news part, and the comment section, both being clearly marked in the schedule. While this is true, the “comment” strand of FNC occupies the whole of prime time (2000 hours to 2300 hours Eastern Time, plus the breakfast show Fox and Friends).

... but might be like this ...

Also, that would not get round Ofcom, as witness both FNC and channels like Russia Today falling foul of the rules in the past. But Waterson gives a hint of how the new entrants can deal with Ofcom: what might be called doing a Farage, after the Brexit Party Oberscheissenf├╝hrer’s seemingly pointless rants to the European Parliament.

Those rants were then parcelled up as stand-alone videos, and promoted via a variety of right-wing, and indeed far-right, social media accounts - plus the press. What Waterson calls “Piers Morgan’s outbursts on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, which regularly become talking points online and drive substantial traffic to tabloid newspapers” use the same idea, as, he notes, do the variously unappealing hosts on Murdoch property TalkRADIO.

... or, most likely, like this

That way, there is less need to stick to the rules: there will no doubt be “balance” - it just won’t get promoted so heavily, if at all. Moreover, it provides one golden opportunity: as Waterson notes, Piers Morgan uses his platform at ITV to help out his old media pals. Yes, here we have a Trojan Horse for a beleaguered press establishment.

What we get might not be like Fox News Channel (a small mercy for which to be thankful), but there is serious method in this media madness. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Nigel Farage - The Mask Slips

Sometimes those triumphantly putting the boot in on anyone to the left of Genghis Khan allow their enthusiasm to run unchecked to such an extent that the mask slips, and we see what really drives the jingoism, the proud patriotism, or more like the faux nationalism. So it was recently with Brexit Party Oberscheissenf├╝hrer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, whose recent pronouncements show just what an upstanding member of society he is not.

Spot the difference, if any

Nige had been flogging his inflatable-boats-full-of-scary-brown-and-black-people dead horse a little too hard, and being chauffeured around the UK making a nuisance of himself and potentially putting hotels out of business was not universally popular, but then along came the Proms. This presented a prime target, but also revealed his bigotry.

So the BBC may drop Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from The Proms because the Finnish conductor is too woke. Why not drop her instead?” Although this scored him lots of clicks, and some media appearances, it showed his crude xenophobia and caused conductor Dalia Stasevska to receive abuse and threats - because Farage was lying. She has no control over which pieces are played at the Proms.

Still, remember Farage fans, “The woke agenda is to make us ashamed of who we are”. Yes, being aware of social injustice, and especially racism, is making Nige ashamed. Ashamed to be exposed as a racist. With a side order of lying: “The only thing that needs cancelling is the BBC itself”. Very good Nige: the BBC has been running the Proms since 1927. Were it not for the Beeb’s continued sponsorship, there would be no Last Night.

And if you don’t believe Farage is a nailed-on racist, check out what he is Retweeting: an article telling readers “New York University moves to implement racial segregation in student housing”. To borrow the words of Gore Vidal, Farage, like William F Buckley, would have been over at the Wallace headquarters stitching hoods.

The racism was underscored when he responded to news that some of those seeking asylum in the UK had secured legal representation, and that this had meant any move to deport them to another country could not proceed, by ranting “Left wing legal idiots won’t stop until our country is overrun”. Great Replacement conspiracy theory, anyone?

Anyone still think Nigel Farage is about patriotism, rather than just bigotry? After the latest figures on net migration showed a rise in non-EU entrants, he frothed “In 2016 we voted to take back control of our borders and this government was elected on that mandate. Conservative voters will be very disappointed by these figures”. The idea that the economy needs some inward migration is not allowed to enter. It’s just racism.

And not just any old racism, as he trailed his latest column for the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph by telling his followers “The silent majority has begun to stand up against this cultural Marxist revolution”. Many wish he would be silent for a change. Moreover, the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is a little too obvious.

Nigel Farage isn’t a patriot. He isn’t interested in making the UK great, independent, world-leading or distinctive. He’s just a bigot who whips up hatred against brown people, black people, Jewish people, and anyone who doesn’t speak English. Deal with it, Farage fans.

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