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Saturday, 24 October 2020

Priti Patel - In Trouble With Herself

Considering she spends so much time talking about migrants and refugees, and how especially tough she is going to be on them, along with promises to deport as many as possible, at the earliest opportunity, and to whichever country may or may not want to receive them, Priti Patel, who has been inexplicably elevated to the position of Home Secretary, shows little sign of understanding the intricacies of the relevant laws.

So it is that she has gone after all those “activist lawyers”, with the result that at least one legal practice that assists those seeking asylum in the UK has been the target of a suspected far-right terrorist attack. Then she turned her attention to marking the anniversary of a tragic incident which was discovered last year at Grays, in Essex.

39 Vietnamese nationals had been found dead in a sealed lorry trailer. As the BBC later reported, “The bodies of the Vietnamese nationals were discovered at an industrial estate soon after the lorry arrived in the UK on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium. Among the men, women and children were 10 teenagers, two of them 15-year-old boys”.

Last April, “Lorry driver Maurice Robinson … pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to 39 counts of manslaughter”. Earlier this month, “Gheorghe Nica … admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019”. But this later BBC report ended with the caution “The trial continues”. Which means what, exactly?

The Attorney General’s office, domain of Ms Patel’s pal Suella Braverman, has helpfully provided an explainer: “Interfering with the administration of justice constitutes a serious offence - learn more about contempt of court and the right to a fair trial on our website”.

It seems Ms Patel may have found such a visit instructive: the Crime Line Twitter feed responded to her yesterday “There is a trial in progress, this Tweet is ill-advised”. Later, we learned “Home Secretary deletes Tweet which may have wrecked major criminal trial”. The Secret Barrister mused “I suggest that [Priti Patel] start following [the Attorney General’s Office]. Might save future embarrassment/imprisonment”.

So what’s the connection? Simples. Yesterday was the anniversary of the 39 bodies being discovered in that sealed lorry trailer. And I can reveal that Ms Patel Tweeted out a reminder of that anniversary. She would have been OK leaving it at that. But she did not.

She had to add a comment, which was where Crime Line came in. And, unlike those of us who Ms Patel has blocked, she had not yet got round to removing Crime Line from her field of Twitter vision, and so was able to see the warning before too much damage had been done. Hopefully the trial will be able to proceed without hindrance.

Think before Tweeting. Especially when you’re supposed to know about the law.

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Selaine Saxby - Another Tory Idiot

You may not have heard of Selaine Saxby before, but as a result of her ability to open mouth and insert foot, many people now have, and more undoubtedly will. She is a new intake Tory MP representing North Devon, and she is a signatory to the letter sent by party chair Amanda Milling to Keir Starmer blaming Rotten Lefty™ Angela Rayner for all the adverse comment she and her colleagues have been receiving this week.

Selaine Saxby MP

Commenting on Ms Milling’s righteous upbraiding of the Labour leader (“Will Sir Keir take action against Labour MPs and party members who perpetrate abuse, and apologise for Rayner’s record of unparliamentary behaviour?”), she observed “My team and myself have received nothing but abuse from opposition supporters for 48 hours now and I hope this is a step towards more positive political debate in future”.

Sadly, this was not a totally honest appraisal of where the abuse was originating, leaving aside for a moment the shonky grammar. More likely it had something to do with her response to local businesses in her own constituency: after she and most of her Tory colleagues had voted against extending free school meals for least well-off children through the half term and Christmas holidays, those businesses stepped in to help.

But instead of that, she took to Facebook and proclaimed “I am delighted our local businesses have bounced back so much after lockdown they are able to give away food for free, and very much hope they will not be seeking any further Government support”. Would Madam care to dig herself in a little deeper? Have a guess.

The very unpleasant language used towards myself and my staff in the last few days is not going to be of benefit to any children in North Devon. There are numerous ways to help those who need help the most in North Devon way beyond free school meals over a half term holiday, and I am committed to working towards finding them, in a polite manner, barring as few people as possible from my social media feeds!” Ri-i-i-ight.

Cue intervention from Devon Live. “North Devon Conservative MP Selaine Saxby, who voted against the government providing free schools meals for vulnerable children during half-term, has caused even more controversy after publicly 'attacking' the hospitality industry for stepping in to give away free food … The post sparked huge anger on the site with calls for an apology and her resignation”. Who was in the vanguard of this criticism?

Among those demanding she apologise is North Devon Lib Dem spokesperson Alex White, who said one in six children in Devon live in poverty, rising to one in three in parts of North Devon”. Not anyone from the Labour Party, then. Over to Ms Saxby.

The portrayal of my recent comments on social media, out of context [ho ho ho], does not accurately convey my views - I of course deeply regret any offence that may have been caused … I am proud that we live in a community where local businesses are keen to help others and it is this widespread community spirit that has got us through the first wave of the pandemic”. Then she negates that by playing the victim once again.

The recent behaviour of a small but hostile element toward myself, my office staff and on social media, has become aggressive and personally abusive”. She should have heard the shit many Labour canvassers got last December. And stop blaming her idiocy on others.

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Ben Bradley - STOP DIGGING

When the Tories decided to come over all righteous and offended because Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner allegedly called their smirking and smug colleague Chris Clarkson “scum”, they perhaps did not know that one of those who signed a letter to Keir Starmer demanding he take Very Stern Action Immediately against Ms Rayner was about to make her actions look like the proverbial drop in the ocean.

Ben Bradley ...

But cometh the hour, cometh the obnoxious creep: Ben Bradley, pride of the “Red Wall”, who represents Mansfield, has done just that. Worse, this morning he was still digging, in an interview on BBC Breakfast. Just to add some spice, Ms Rayner set the ball rolling. And, of course, poor Ben is the victim here. Except he isn’t.

... who didn't really accuse some of his voters of doing this, honestly

In a Twitter exchange which he has now deleted, Bradley had claimed “At one school in Mansfield 75% of kids have a social worker, 25% of parents are illiterate. The estate is the centre of the area’s crime. One kid lives in a crack den, another in a brothel. These are the kids that most need our help, extending [Free School Meals] doesn’t reach these kids”.

When one Tweeter mused “£20 cash direct to a crack den and brothel really sounds like the way forward with this one”, Bradley replied “That’s what FSM vouchers in the summer effectively did”. Cue Ms Rayner. “A Conservative MP has said that free school meals are effectively a direct payment to brothels and drug dealers. Notwithstanding the fact that the vouchers in summer could only be used to purchase food, this stigmatisation of working class families is disgraceful and disgusting”. Bradley realised he was in deep shit.

But he was already too late. “Angela. Please remove this clickbait nonsense. If the context is not clear, I will clarify, but thats 100% NOT what I've said. Please don't drag this debate in to the gutter. What you've put here is NOT TRUE … Pretty clear that I'm about to get hammered across social media/papers for the crime of a tweet where the context wasn't as clear as I'd thought it was. Needless to say, I haven't said what I'm being accused of, nor would I ever. I'm sorry if others get dragged in to the fire”. Looks like he did say it.

Plenty of Tweeters reminded him of what he did say, which was very adjacent to what Ms Rayner said he said. And his faux pas was not his first of the day: earlier he had tried it on with Marcus Rashford. "Hi [Marcus] - no reply to this yet so far as I can see. You were very quick to reply to previous tweets... Would love to invite you to Oak Tree, to discuss the needs of the kids face to face, and why FSM is not the right approach. Drop me an email?

Sadly, er, you guessed it. “Unfortunately for you I am a governor at that very school. I have just spoken to the head and I can assure you that our view is very much that the kids need FSM. I ask you to correct this and not give false impressions of a school who fight tooth and nail for their kids … Can I ask people to retweet this. I will not have our school used like this. He is completely wrong to give this impression”. And there was more.

A local primary school’s Facebook page was going after him, telling “this stigmatisation of working class families is truly shocking”. Evolve Politics watched the action unfold: “Ben Bradley is literally mouthing off at a local Primary School on Facebook now”. And he was still trying to blame Angela Rayner for what he had said.

Maybe Bradley will see his majority diminish next time round. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Friday, 23 October 2020

RW Press Ignores Terror Attack

Anything that the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press can pass off as a terrorist incident is thus passed off; this is one of their iron rules. Whether it is London Bridge, the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, London’s transport network, or Manchester’s Arena, it is rigorously reported, followed up soon afterwards by an unappealing bevy of why-oh-why punditry. But then another of the press’ iron rules comes into play.

Their power rests not merely on what they choose to report, but what they choose not to report. And that means acts of terror perpetrated by Scary Muslims™ are reported upon, and those carried out by the far right a mere optional extra. Throw in the right-leaning press’ adoration of the current Government, and its tough talk on sending as many refugees back somewhere else in short order, and reporting terror is not done at all.

You think I jest? Sadly not. We have had to rely on the indomitable Lizzie Dearden of the online-only Independent to see this principle in action. As she has told, “An alleged far-right extremist has been charged with attempting to launch a terror attack on a solicitors' firm in London. Cavan Medlock, 28, is accused of planning to kill a lawyer from Duncan Lewis because of their work representing migrants”. There was more.

The Old Bailey heard that he arrived at the firm’s offices in Harrow on 7 September armed with a knife, handcuffs, a Nazi flag and a US Confederate flag … He allegedly brandished a knife and ‘demanded to see a named member of staff’, before threatening to kill the man”. For some reason, this report has evaded the attention of Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Ms Dearden continued “A prosecutor said that Mr Medlock appeared to be motivated by ‘the firm’s involvement in preventing the government from deporting people who had come into the country unlawfully’ No pleas have yet been entered and he is expected to go on trial in May”. Then comes a moment of light relief, though not for the accused.

Mr Medlock was to appear in court via video link from prison, but judge said he was ‘regarded as having deliberately absented himself’ … ‘He came onto the video link and started taking his clothes off and refused to put them back on again, so hence we have lost the video link’”. The Indy’s report adds thatThe defendant [was] not asked to enter pleas to the charges and was remanded in custody ahead of a plea and case management hearing to be held in December or January”.

Only then did the magpies at Mail Online put their own report up. They have helpfully added that Medlock is on remand down the Scrubs, and have published a photo of the office block where Duncan Lewis Solicitors have their offices, just in case any of Medlock’s like-minded pals are looking in. The usual level of helpfulness, then.

The thought enters that had this been an alleged attack by someone who was not white, and especially if the suspect was a Muslim, papers like the Mail would not have waited until this point to report the matter. They would have splashed it all over the paper as soon as it was first reported. But as this incident has come in the wake of Ms Patel’s screaming rhetoric about “activist lawyers” preventing deportations, they’ve hardly peeped.

Not that they’re Government stenographers and bigots with it. Perish the thought!

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Dan Wootton - A Loser Wants Afters

Those who have studied the modus operandi of our free and fearless press, and its army of thin-skinned and vindictive nonentities that passes as “talent”, will instantly recognise the actions of singularly repellant gossip hawker Dan Wootton, who has been given the title of “Executive Editor” at the Murdoch Sun. Dan is not a happy bunny.

This is mainly because, earlier this week, he invited Labour MP Chris Bryant to appear on his show on another Murdoch property, TalkRADIO. When Bryant declined to act as cannon fodder for The Great Man, calling the Great Barrington Declaration “crackpot” and Wootton a “nutcase”, Dan was deeply offended. Mainly because he came off second best.

So, in accordance with the iron rule of tabloid hackery, Wootton has come back for afters. He must do this in order to reassure his bosses, and indeed his fellow hacks, that he is still strong, that he will not allow a Rotten Lefty™ to get the better of him. So he has used his latest Sun column to showboat. By calling Bryant for showboating. Off he went.

Welsh Labour MP Chris ­Bryant, who found fleeting internet notoriety for telling me that believing in herd immunity - a scientific theory since 1923 that has saved the human race from infectious diseases many times over - makes me a ‘nutcase’ (sensitive language as ever from the chair of Parliament’s Standards Committee)”. No citation. No surprise.

Then comes the flat-out dangerous and misleading claim. “If you remove political ­posturing from the discussion, the reality is that natural immunity to Covid-19 is the only way out of the current maelstrom. The question is, how we are going to get there”. His citation is one of his own columns. Er, no. As many as one in ten people who have ostensibly recovered from Covid-19 continue to experience symptoms. Long Covid is a reality.

What is also a reality is that allowing younger people to become infected by the virus progresses, with the certainty of night following day, to older people becoming infected, and many of them needing extensive medical interventions - or dying. But Wootton does not need to consider such trivia - he’s got a sleight of hand to pull.

Scientists around the world crunching actual data [the ones he agrees with], rather than relying on dodgy modelling [versus the ones he doesn’t], are increasingly saying the same thing about the damage that would do. A Lancet study of 50 countries, for example, found no link between lockdowns and decreased Covid mortality”. That is not the primary purpose of a lockdown. It is to reduce transmission and allow the NHS to cope. Then, fewer people die.

Worse, he then claims “The true cost of lockdown was revealed in the starkest of terms this week, with ONS statistics showing an excess death toll of 26,000 in private homes from the start of lockdown in March to September … The vast majority of those poor souls were either scared into staying home or told to by medical professionals”.

The Sun article to which he links doesn’t say that. “A new report suggests thousands of worried Brits stayed away from the NHS … suggesting many struggled to access NHS care … indicating thousands of sick Brits were put off seeking medical help”. And, guess what, “In contrast, the overall numbers of deaths in hospital were down by more than a quarter”. It was “unclear how many of these lives could have been extended had they gone to hospital”. But in the world of Desperate Dan Wootton, it has become a certainty.

So hell-bent is he on putting the boot into Chris Bryant, who is actually working with health professionals in his constituency, that claims are selected, inflated, and reinvented just so that he can claim some kind of victory. That’s what passes for journalism at the Sun.

But it soon falls apart under the slightest examination. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Mail Drag Artist Smear EXPOSED

The effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the performing arts has been little short of catastrophic: no indoor live performances, so most live entertainment has ceased. From this, it follows that performers, and indeed the venues where they perform, have had their income streams more or less terminated until the country gets back to whatever will pass for the new normal. So Arts Council England have intervened.

George Ikediashi. Yes, he's a serious actor, too

So far, so routine, but then the posh white boys saw a gay black man receiving grant money from ACE, and the smears started. This exercise reached its nadir in the Daily Mail today as readers were toldThe drag artist who was handed £215,000 by the coronavirus culture fund: Arts Council England gives huge grant to performer who goes by the name Le Gateau Chocolat”. There are plenty of photos. So readers know he’s black.

Readers are also told “Arts Council England are distributing £500 million to cash-strapped venues … £215,000 went to Le Gateau Chocolat Ltd, run by performer George Ikediashi … But several renowned clubs and venues have had their applications rejected”, before the grudging addition of “The council defending the grant size saying it would go towards hiring freelancers to put on planned shows”. So it’s not just about one man.

Posh white hacks: David Churchill ...

Except that is how the article, under the by-lines of David Churchill and James Tozer, is framed. They make sure their audience knows “While snubbing popular cash-strapped venues applying for a share of its £500 million pot, Arts Council England gave the huge grant to George Ikediashi - who describes himself as ‘fat, black and bearded’”.

So he, by implication, can’t be popular and cash-strapped. Also, “The sum - which is more than seven times the average national salary - came despite the act never grossing even half that sum in a year”. By now, the not-really-racist-honestly buttons have been pressed, and with the knowledge that this is about an LBGTQ+ drag artist, the screaming-paranoia-at-anything-not-straight-and-white buttons soon will be.

... and James Tozer

So George Ikediashi can expect a suitably aggressive, racist and homophobic pile-on as a result. But all is not as it seems: even the Mail concedes at the end of its article - that is, after its audience has been told what to think and made its mind up - ACE’s reminder that “With this funding, Le Gateau Chocolat Ltd will put on a number of planned shows, which would involve employing a range of freelancers to produce and deliver work”.

In other words, it’s not just about one gay black man. But the story had already been shaped that way before it got to the Mail: the initial exposé had come from yet another posh white hack, Tom Harwood, replacement teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. Harwood had told his audienceArts Council Gave £215,305 In Coronavirus Recovery To Solo Drag Act”, and laterArts Council Defends Handing £215,305 To One Drag Performer”. It was an “enormous pot of free money”.

What time is it Eccles?

So this story, such as it is, has been lifted from a borderline Fake News site in order to feed audience prejudice. Instead of being titled “The drag artist who was handed £215,000 by the coronavirus culture fund”, it should have read “Posh White Hacks Smear Gay Black Man No Shock Horror”. That would, at least, have had the benefit of accuracy.

Bigotry and dishonesty is the name of this particular game. No change there, then.

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Thursday, 22 October 2020

Chris Clarkson Meets Aneurin Bevan

Of all the so-called “Red Wall” Tory MPs, it is possible that there is none so smug as Chris Clarkson, who is now representing the Greater Manchester constituency of Heywood and Middleton. It is not east to find a photo of him without that mildly nauseating self-satisfied smirk - except those taken from video of the Commons yesterday.

Smug. But in a limited and specific way

As to why he wears that expression, one can only speculate. Perhaps it has something to do with winning a seat in Labour territory; perhaps it signifies the knowledge that he has put one over on all those who took the piss out of him at school; maybe it’s part of that debating society demeanour that was on display yesterday at Westminster.

It certainly irritated Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner. She had led a debate on the subject of continuing free school meals for those children least well off through the half-term and Christmas holidays, and here was Tory Boy Clarkson, wasting time sneering at her party colleague Andy Burnham for the heinous sin of sticking up for Greater Manchester’s less well paid workers as a Tier 3 Covid-19 lockdown loomed.

Here was Clarkson, getting on his debating society high horse, determined to rubbish the idea of Government doing something to stop kids going hungry, while trousering his MPs salary - including a monthly food allowance of around £400. And there was Ms Rayner, who had just lost an aunt to Covid-19, and wanted desperately to help the disadvantaged.

Something clearly snapped. “Did the Rt Hon Lady just call me ‘scum’?” leered Clarkson. The deputy speaker admonished Ms Rayner; she later apologised. For Clarkson, though, this was insufficient: to waste a little more time, he wrote to her formally. That would show those Rotten Lefties™ who were not in power not to mess with him!

Maybe he has not indulged in unparliamentary language himself, but others on the Tory benches certainly have, and much of it has been directed at the likes of Ms Rayner. She has also had to cope with a Covid-19 infection. Now she has seen a succession of Tory MPs obstruct a move to ward off hunger, with one of them getting righteous with her.

Well, if Chris Clarkson thinks he’s been hard done by, perhaps he should mug up on his recent political history. Including a speech at Manchester’s Belle Vue Hotel, given in July 1948 by Aneurin Bevan, just before the NHS came into being. He did not mince his words when recalling Tory attitudes and policies of the 1920s and 1930s.

That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation”.

Tory obstruction of relief for those at the bottom of the pile is nothing new. The only novelty yesterday was the willingness of some within that party to not merely obstruct a move to bring relief from hunger, but to accompany it with the sneering and dismissive attitude that proved too much for the usually sanguine Angela Rayner.

Chris Clarkson’s contribution will be remembered. But maybe not in the way he would like.

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Tory Anti-Semitism Strikes Again

Some commentators make the mistake, when seeing yet another gaffe from Mansfield’s Tory MP Ben Bradley, of concluding that he is stupid. They are wrong: Bradley is anything but. He was, after all, the privileged recipient of a private school education: he attended Derby Grammar School, which is actually located outside the city, in the village suburb of Littleover. The school is “academically selective”. Stupid he is not.

Ben Bradley. Another privileged Tory

More likely is that all those apparently off-the-cuff comments that Bradley has made, only to row back from them after others have passed severely adverse comment, have been deliberately formulated. It is with that thought in mind that his latest apparent off-piste excursion should be assessed. And it concerns anti-Semitism.

Bradley has been highly opinionated on the subject in the past, especially when it gave him an opportunity to attack the Labour Party. When Theresa May was PM, he sneered “What an absolute car crash from Jeremy Corbyn at #PMQs - blamed the PM for a decision taken by Labour in 2009, and then accused HER of being 'callous', when he walked out and ignored pleas from his own MPs over antisemitic abuse yesterday!! #LabourAntisemitism”. The PMQs exchange had not been about anti-Semitism.

That was how keen Bradley was to pivot to the subject. He was at it again in July last year, claiming “Rather than accept they have a problem with #antisemitism and deal with it, #Labour plan to mob the media with pre-concocted messages, pushed out to their MPs before they've even seen the programme. #InDenial about #Racism”.

So it might be thought that Bradley would have done a little research on the subject - such as finding out what constitutes an anti-Semitic trope, and some examples thereof. Having become thus knowledgeable, he would not make the mistake of using an easily identifiable trope himself. But, it seems, that thought would have been sadly misplaced.

After one Tweeter suggested to him “You should be worried about why you don’t want to take part in ‘unconscious bias’ training”, off he went. “Because it's built on the premise of modern day class warfare; cultural Marxism for the 21st century. Replace 'working classes' with intersectionalism... 'identities' are 'haves' or 'have nots' based solely on physical characteristics. In short, it's hard-left divisive bollocks!” Hear that alarm bell ring!

Cultural Marxism. Not just any old anti-Semitic trope, but one straight out of the Third Reich playbook. Worse, it’s the same anti-Semitic trope that Suella Braverman, now inexplicably elevated to the post of Attorney General, used recently, and which earned her a rebuke from the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

So no-one should have been surprised when Martin Abrams tagged the BoD, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, “Lord” John Mann and various others, putting the obvious question “Here's a Tory MP using a far right and antisemitic conspiracy theory … Where's the public outrage?” More Tory anti-Semitism. More media crickets.

And don’t excuse Bradley by saying he’s stupid. Because he is not.

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