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Sunday, 28 November 2021

French Could FINISH Priti Patel

As our free and fearless press is once again distracted by the Covid-19 pandemic - with the arrival of a new variant known as Omicron - and the realisation sinks in that the festive season could be derailed, attention has briefly swung away from something that could derail alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his coterie of terminal ineptitude for good. And it’s something totally out of their control.

May not be smirking for much longer ...

Until the Omicron story broke, along with the news that scores of those carrying the variant had arrived from South Africa and dispersed among the population, spreading it all over the transport system as they went, the Government’s major headache was the arrival of refugees from France, crossing the Channel in inflatable boats.

The problem for Bozo and his inexplicably elevated Home Secretary, Priti Patel, was not only that the boats kept on coming, but that their attempt to use the pages of the Daily Mail as a form of diplomacy riled the French, so much so that Ms Patel found herself disinvited from a gathering which would discuss ways of tackling the problem.

Added to this was Bozo’s habit of saying one thing to one person, and then a totally different thing to the next person, which in turn alienated French Président Emmanuel Macron, who right now is the last person our PM needs to lose. Because Macron is the only big French name who is not yet advocating scrapping the Le Touquet accords.

What they? This refers to a 2003 treaty that allows the UK to police its border at locations like the port of Calais. Thus it is easy to turn back refugees before they get aboard a ferry. French border controls, conversely, are performed before boarding ferries or Eurotunnel shuttles departing from the UK. But, whisper it quietly, nothing is forever.

... if he has anything to do with it

The constant stream of hostile invective emanating from Bozo and his pals, and directed in the general direction of the French, has become an issue in the upcoming Presidential Election. And one candidate whose name is familiar to UK politics watchers has already asserted that the Le Touquet agreement should be scrapped.

Michel Barnier (for it is he) has done enough to spook the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker: “The EU's former Brexit negotiator has dramatically urged France to tear up its migrant treaty with Britain and send asylum-seekers across the Channel as tensions between London and Paris boil over … Michel Barnier … vowed that he would pull France out of the Treaty of Touquet governing Anglo-French border relations if he wins the ballot”.

There was more. “Paris has complained that, in practice, they are managing the British border with mainland Europe. They have also claimed that the treaty has resulted in huge numbers of migrants setting up campsites - such as the infamous Jungle dismantled in 2016 - at its ports as they attempt to enter Britain”. Which would mean what, exactly?

Simples. Refugees would be able to board ferries and present their asylum claims on arrival at Dover, or wherever in the UK they land. No more people trafficking, no more inflatable boats, no more needless drownings, and best of all, no endless stream of images for the press to use as it tries to frighten its readers.

The downside? Priti Patel would be toast. Maybe not such a downside after all.

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Friday, 26 November 2021

Left Media Critics In Deep Trouble

Independent press regulator IMPRESS has just published its findings into an investigation it mounted into two of the online publishers it regulates. In doing so, it has not only demonstrated its willingness to cover the territory that press non-regulator IPSO will not, but also has demonstrated a commendable thoroughness and vigour. It has also, whisper it quietly, dropped a number of highly vocal critics of the two sites into the mire.

Doctor, I can't keep my mouth shut

The timeline can be put directly: “Lord” John Mann, the Tories’ unfortunately-titled “Anti-Semitism Czar”, commissioned research from Daniel Allington of King’s College London. The subsequent report, Antisemitism and the alternative media, can be seen HERE. Four publishers were examined: Radio Albion and TR News out there on the far right, alongside The Canary and Skwawkbox on the left. The selection may look familiar.

That is because the tactic used is the same as that used by Stop Funding Fake News, a self-appointed judge and jury representing no-one and hiding its funders behind a wall of anonymity. This, too, used the tactic of throwing in a couple of far-right outlets for alleged balance, but it was all too clear who the real targets were - the left.

One more run out for this faux equivalence

SFFN was enthusiastically endorsed by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley. It went after The Canary with some vigour, attempting to demonetise the site by frightening off advertisers. And, surprise surprise, the KCL report also talks demonetisation. That report made sufficient noise for IMPRESS to proactively intervene.

It regulated The Canary and Skwawkbox. Did the sites discriminate against Jews? Was there evidence of anti-Semitism? The conclusion from IMPRESS was damning. “The Committee decided that, of the material in remit, none of it reached the threshold which would engage the discrimination clause and, therefore, further investigation would be unjustified. The matter was therefore dismissed”. Publishers exonerated.

Smeared and cleared: The Canary ...

But that will not be the end of it. “Lord” John Mann, who has been so vocal on the subject of anti-Semitism, has also been highly selective in who he pursues: not for him the steady drip of Tories lapsing into anti-Semitic tropes. Worse for him is that he appears to have been prompted, either directly or via his own research, by the SFFN faux campaign.

He also has a grim track record for racism, having been interviewed by the Police over material attacking the GRT Community. Moreover, he has to his name an intervention in an alleged case of anti-Semitic bias that showed a laughable lack of intellectual heft.

... and Skwawkbox

As for Ms Riley and SFFN, the latter apparently linked to the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, they should count themselves lucky: the “fake news” smear against The Canary is potentially actionable, should the publisher find anyone to take on the case. Rachel Riley does not hesitate to instruct lawyers herself: it would be singularly delicious to see how she likes it when the boot is so firmly on the other foot.

One other casualty of the IMPRESS investigation has not yet been named, so I will name it. The Government of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his coterie of ineptitude, by appointing “Lord” John Mann, is also responsible for the smears and the distress caused to two publishers who turned out to have done nothing wrong. The credibility of “Lord” John Mann has finally expired. Put a fork in him, he’s done.

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Covid Is Not The Only Virus

Despite the title of arguably the most OTT Bond film ever produced, you only live once. Sometimes, that one life can seem very precarious, all too easy to let slip in the face of unexpected danger that remains unanswered for too long. When one needs help confronting the danger, it is instructive who comes to your aid.

Put directly, during last week I was aware of some kind of virus-like symptoms which were gradually becoming more serious. A volcanic, ribcage-rattling cough was later joined by a shortness of breath and a seriously snotty cold. Was it Covid? I’d been on a pub crawl with friends the previous Friday. Though, more importantly, had also had a booster jab.

But last Saturday, matters came to a head. The breathing got worse and nothing to hand - inhalers to manage asthma - was any use. By late afternoon I knew that doing nothing would see me exit the house feet first. So a call to 999 it had to be. Within half an hour, an ambulance crewed by two paramedics had arrived to try and turn matters round.

They broke out a nebuliser. They were sure this would be familiar to me. It wasn’t. “But you’ve got asthma!” True, but it was a condition well managed, there had been no serious attack for around 40 years, and so nothing more than inhalers and monitoring was needed. Some improvement was made but the decision was made to take me to A&E.

And so, at around 1800 hours, I was wheeled into Leighton Hospital, a chair having been wheeled out as my mobility was deteriorating rapidly. There was a queue, but not a long one: soon, in a side room, medics and nurses got to work administering a cocktail of drugs. I was moved to a quiet corner of the area to get some rest.

Later in the evening, being wheeled by trolley to X-Ray (chest X-Ray is more or less obligatory in such cases), I saw the A&E queue at its longest, a line of chairs and trolleys waiting patiently for diagnosis. It looked grim. But they would all be seen: if necessary, they would be treated, and a few would be admitted. The NHS sees everyone.

The duty doctor eventually got round to me at around 0100 hours on Sunday morning. There was, he declared, no way I would be sent home in that state. This meant being admitted. Another nebuliser followed, along with a call for a nasal cannula. So began my first encounter with supplemental oxygen. It became quite a lengthy one.

At around 0240 hours, there were two news items: it was a virus, but not Covid (it’s RSV, and especially affects older people with underlying respiratory problems). Also, a bed had been found for me. A nurse wheeled my trolley through a maze of corridors to South Cheshire, formerly a private unit but now used mainly for Covid patients. The individual rooms make distancing between those patients easier to manage. The A&E queue had just been cleared. All who came had been seen and treated.

With the attention of the ward team came a stabilised, and indeed, slightly improving condition. There is not much to do when confined to your room on a hospital ward, but it is infinitely better than chancing your life and not bothering when matters are out of your control. RSV can be fatal; let’s say I got the sneak preview. When I had a real Near Death Experience, and really needed the NHS, it was there for me. For now, at least.

Leighton Hospital, Crewe: aerial view looking south

Why the NHS may cease to be there for any of us in future, at least the 90+ percent of the population unable to shell out and go private, as right-wing parliamentarians, equally partisan members of the media class and their hangers-on are, became clear to me as I watched life in the South Cheshire ward play out over my four days there.

The ward is run by a team, all of whom, whatever their rank, wear similar blue overalls. Some, like specialist doctors, wear badges which you may be able to read close up. Otherwise, cleaner, HCA, Nurse, Doctor, Physio and other specialists are just another part of a team providing care. Tories must hate it. Because their press pals will hate it.

In Daily Mail la-la-land, the ward should be a land of hierarchy, where the colour of nurses’ freshly-starched uniforms clearly shows their rank and seniority. This is an unshakeable part of their Back To The 50s reality, as is the presence of an all-powerful Matron, a presence that in reality would do little more than waste everyone else’s time.

Worse still for those out there on the right, a uniformly non-uniformed team makes a highly egalitarian statement. So does the care they provide: the duty Doctor sees every patient, administering to all, listening to all, and favouring none. All patients select their food from the same menu, and all eat at the same mealtimes. All receive their day’s medication on the same Nurse’s round. All those seeing the Physio do so on the same daily round.

There is no-one paying more to jump the queue, obtain the benefit of a more upmarket standard of cuisine, have a little beer or wine brought to their room, or even have a lot of beer and wine brought to their room. But there is a team of truly diverse age, gender and ethnicity. Many of whom are putting in five 12-hour shifts every single week.

Egalitarian. Teamwork. Equality of care, and care for all. For right-wingers, this is hell on earth, almost a manifestation of communism. It is a manifestation that, in going against the false memory planted by the Mail and other propagandists, those propagandists must oppose and seek to either bend to their will - or have done away with altogether.

You want to know why so many on the right come over all froth at the mouth and blind intolerance at the very mention of the NHS? Spend a few days in an NHS hospital.

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Thursday, 25 November 2021

Tragedy In Channel - Someone Else’s Fault

More than six years on, nothing much has changed in the attitude of our Government and its hangers-on in the media class: in early September 2015, it took the image of a lifeless three-year-old boy, washed up on a beach in Turkey, to bring the grim reality of those desperate to flee the instability of the Middle East to bring a halt to the sick yet constant drumbeat of migrant demonisation. But then the drums just started up over again.

The grim reality for those who make it ...

After Brexit, and the descent of the Tory Party into a paranoid and conspiracist nationalist death cult, we would have control over our borders. Priti Patel, inexplicably elevated way beyond her abilities to the rank of Home Secretary, clearly believed her own propaganda and so was ill-prepared for the increase in migrant crossings of the English Channel. She made defiant noises, but she did nothing. Because there was little she could do.

Instead, she issued threats: the dinghies carrying all those migrants would be “turned back” in mid-Channel, whatever maritime law said. The dastardly French would have to do better; she managed to miss our no longer being an EU member state. Whatever went wrong would be the fault of people traffickers, as it was their fault when we were not blaming the French. The Tory press duly took their lead from Ms Patel.

... versus idealised history (Kindertransport memorial at Liverpool Street)

And then, yesterday, it happened again. This time, though, it wasn’t in the Mediterranean. It was in the Channel. And it was more than one little Kurdish boy. It was at least 27 individuals who had set off from a beach not far from the Channel port of Calais; their boat sank and they drowned. Two have been rescued and are being treated for hypothermia; in November, sea temperatures are low and getting lower. Five are still missing.

So what would our free and fearless press make of this news? What excuses would they make for their heroine Ms Patel? What excuses would they make for themselves? Would they be able to summon the ability to show a little self-awareness, a little reining back of the foreigner bashing paranoia? Could there be a little less hate and a little more love?

Someone else is to blame

There would certainly be no dialling down on the hatred, and love for anyone not speaking English was out of the question. And the excuses are as lame and as predictable as ever: free sheet Metro was first out of the blocks with “Death In The Channel … WHY DIDN’T FRANCE STOP THEM”? The same photo is used by the Mail.

At 7.15am yesterday French Police sit and watch as people traffickers launch migrants on perilous trip to Britain. Hours later, 31 others drown in horrific Channel disaster. Now despairing PM tells Macron … YOU’RE LETTING GANGS GET AWAY”. Poor PM! Put on by the French!! Boo Macron!!! Our politicians and media class are full of crap, as ever.

Someone else is to blame, but with more words

Let’s take this nice and slowly, for the sakes of those poor put-upon politicians and their grovelling courtesans in the press. One, just because a French Police vehicle can be seen in the shot of a different boat is not relevant to last night’s tragedy. Two, it’s got sweet Fanny Adams to do with Emanuel Macron: it was the UK that stopped up other migrant routes while failing to establish safe routes for those seeking asylum in this country.

And three, the Tories and their press pals need to own this: the tragedy is on them. All the hostility, all the bile, all the hatred, and yes, all the lies and demonisation have to end. They may not end today, but one day they must. Or this country really has lost all its humanity.

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Saturday, 20 November 2021

So Farewell Then Paul Dacre

As part of their campaign to hobble the BBC, and any other broadcaster that does not toe the desired line, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his coterie of supreme ineptitude have gone to exceptional lengths to instal the least credible placemen in jobs overseeing the media. First came comedy Culture Secretary (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. And then came the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.

Just give me the f***ing job, c***

Dacre’s pent-up aggression was, for so many years, the fuel that powered the hate machine at the Daily Mail. He conceded on Desert Island Discs that he did a lot of shouting. In Flat Earth News, Nick Davies quoted a Mail insider who revealed that Dacre was “known as the Vagina Monologue, because he calls so many people a cunt”.

Private Eye magazine brought us news of Dacre’s appetite for “double cunting” - he would become so aggressive that he would use the C-Word to an underling twice. He had the manner of a bully: whether the target was Judges, Remainers, human rights activists, social media giants, or anyone who was Not White With Malice Aforethought.

So when the Tories tried to get Dacre appointed as chair of media regulator Ofcom, they knew exactly what they were doing, and indeed what kind of message they were sending. But here a problem entered: despite his being coached for the all-important final interview beforehand, Dacre flunked it. He was deemed unfit to be appointed.

No problem for Bozo and Co: the interview process would be re-run. Panel members proved elusive, but they would be found so that the Tories could get their candidate appointed. All that would be needed would be for Ms Dorries to rubber-stamp the expected recommendation, and not even she was going to make a hash of that.

But now has come shock news: as Times political editor Steven Swinford has revealed, “Paul Dacre has pulled out of the race to become the next head of Ofcom … In a letter to The Times he describes his 'infelicitous dalliance with the Blob' & says senior Whitehall figures are determined to exclude anyone with right-of-centre views”. Yeah, right.

As the Guardian told, he said more. "To anyone from the private sector, who, God forbid, has convictions, and is thinking of applying for a public appointment, I say the following: the civil service will control (and leak) everything; the process could take a year in which your life will be put on hold; and if you are possessed of an independent mind and are unassociated with the liberal/left, you will have more chance of winning the lottery than getting the job”. Leak? It’s called transparency and accountability.

Moreover, he’s just whinging because he thinks there should be no process to speak of, and he should just have the job awarded to him. Besides, he’s not going to be without something to do: he claims to be taking up “an exciting new job” in the private sector. While slagging off two senior Civil Servants who just happen to be women.

In doing so, Dacre shows why he is not fit to be appointed to any job in the public sector. In any case, had he been appointed, he would have been one of the biggest hypocrites going - in charge of regulation, where he had previously railed against all and any regulation where the Mail and other press titles were concerned. Now who will the Tories rope in?

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Friday, 19 November 2021

Trojan Horse Hoax - Culprit Escapes

If one event proved beyond doubt that something that looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true, it is what became known as the “Trojan Horse” hoax of 2014. A fake dossier and accompanying letter claimed that several schools in Birmingham were being targeted by hardline Islamists. It also claimed that the take-overs were to be extended to schools in Bradford. It was taken very seriously indeed by our free and fearless press.

As the BBC reported at the time, “The letter … was apparently written by someone in Birmingham to a contact in Bradford, and goes on to outline ways and means by which schools can be taken over … It says: ‘We have an obligation to our children to fulfil our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles’”. There was more.

It adds: ‘Operation “Trojan Horse” has been very carefully thought through and is tried and tested within Birmingham, implementing it in Bradford will not be difficult for you’. It says that Salafi parents should be enlisted to help, because they are regarded as a more orthodox branch of Islam and would be more likely to be willing to help”.

He doesn't seem fussed that it was a con ...

And that was where Zelo Street began to smell a rat. The vast majority of Muslims in Birmingham can trace their lineage to the Indian sub-continent, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Although there has been a Salafist movement there since the 18th Century, most Muslims in Birmingham are not Salafi. Many won’t even know any Salafi.

Moreover, why does the supposed author of the hoax letter write to someone in Bradford? It’s almost as if the real author is just picking from a menu of items to frighten the press and politicians, and chucking in Bradford because, well, there are lots of Muslims there, aren’t there? Why not the North West? Why not London? Was the author even a Muslim?

... nor does he ...

It is as if the real author knew their audience would bite: then Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove, who had previously written an inflammatory and anti-Islam book Celsius 7/7 (which included a chapter titled “Trojan Horse”), papers like not only the reliably Islamophobic Mail, and the Murdoch Sun, but also the Sunday Times of “Muslim Fostering” infamy, and the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph.

Chief among the hacks writing increasingly creative copy on the subject was Andrew “Transcription Error” Gilligan, whose attacks on Muslim targets have resulted in at least two defamation settlements having to be reached by the Tel. Meanwhile, Gove used the hoax as a means to suggest that then Home Secretary Theresa May was insufficiently robust on the threat of domestic terrorism. But there was no proof of this.

... and the Speccy probably doesn't care

The effects on thousands of students, and yet more thousands of their families, the teachers concerned and their families in turn, were shattering. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were expended in Ofsted actions, disciplinary actions against teachers and school governors, and investigations by local and national Government.

And yet none of those involved seem inclined to track down the author of the hoax. It is as if the false demonisation of an entire community was, and remains, acceptable. That they were really at it doing Scary Muslim™ things including maybe terrorism. Perhaps.

That’s not good enough. At the very least, the cops should be on the case. Like, now.

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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Isabel Oakeshott Shops Sex Pest

The very last thing someone accused of a particularly seedy and gratuitous sexual assault needs is for a supposed friend to come along, only to say that, yes, they done it. But that is exactly what mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott has done for Stanley, the appallingly behaved father of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Stan The Less Than Man had been accused of spanking then future Tory MP Caroline Nokes, and this revelation prompted Alibhe Rea of the Staggers to add that Johnson Père had groped her rather more recently, at the 2019 Tory conference. Ms Oakeshott then rode to the rescue. Except what she did actually shopped Stanley as a nailed-on sex pest.

Stanley Johnson enjoying the company of another much younger woman

Posting a photo of her with Johnson Senior - the latter appearing to be in what Private Eye magazine might have termed an overtired state - she told “The charming Stanley Johnson can be a little over-friendly - indeed handsy - but I don’t believe this is one for the police. Officers should focus their limited resources on investigating real crimes”.

Ah, “handsy” - another of those terms that appears in That Tory Spreadsheet. As in “handsy in taxis”. Ms Oakeshott has confirmed that “the charming Stanley Johnson” practices sexual assault. And whether she considers this sort of behaviour unworthy of Police attention is irrelevant. Because it really is one of those “real crimes”.

Moreover, her problem is that Johnson Père’s behaviour fits the characterisation portrayed by Tom Bower - as Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian noted, “as an absent father and violent husband, who punched his wife so hard he broke her nose … faithless and a creep … a lifelong flake: dabbling in jobs, failing at most of them, then using his connections to find something else. He is a parasite, sponging off his in-laws and ‘a professional guest’”.

James Felton summarised Ms Oakeshott’s foot in mouth in a few words: “In his defence he does do this sort of thing”. The Tweeter known as Buddy Hell put it rather more directly: “In your attempt to defend him, you've only gone and outed him as a groper”.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Jones QC concluded “I’m no criminal lawyer, but if I was accused of criminal conduct I don’t think I’d be helped by a character witness saying ‘oh that’s just dear old Jones, he does that sort of thing all the time’”. If only a jury were to be made up of Ms Oakeshott and her pals. But the likelihood of that is vanishingly small.

And while self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Harltey Dooda whined plaintively “Is this the same Caroline Noakes?” as if Ms Noakes having had a consensual affair with a younger man made Johnson Senior’s behaviour OK, and then complained “Why bring it up now? Why not simply wallop him in the face at the time? Or report him to CCHQ? Why bring it up 18 years later?” others were less sanguine about what happened.

Kate McCann of Sky News was one of them. “You might be OK with someone being handsy but other women would find that uncomfortable [especially] if younger/less established (I would). Your tweet suggests they ought to just ignore it - it's their problem if they're offended, not his for being ‘over-friendly’. It diminishes them”.

Isabel Oakeshott needs to think before she Tweets. One for the Metropolitan Police.

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Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Tory Second Jobs Ban ISN’T

In a routine display of not-at-all-right-leaning-commentary-honestly, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg considered the proposal from Labour leader Keir Starmer to ban MPs from having second jobs, noted that this had goaded alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson into putting forward his own apparently similar proposals, and declared this to be a victory for Bozo. Even though it wasn’t.

Chicken feed delayed, but not cancelled, apparently

Ouch. Politics is a harsh old business. Sir Keir Starmer's team had decided to put him out in public to make a decisive statement, positioning him as the sleaze-buster in chief. Yet, just as the moment arrived, even during the introduction by his deputy, Angela Rayner, someone else decided to intervene before Sir Keir was able to open his mouth. Yes, you guessed it, one Boris Johnson” she gushed, without going into too much detail.

At first, many Tory MPs were incandescent with rage. How would they pay for the school fees, the nanny, the au pair, the membership of a suitable London club, the property portfolio, the motors, summer holidays in the Caribbean, winter holidays in Aspen (or, at a pinch, Switzerland, as no member of the Europhobic Tory death cult would visit an EU country), the dinner parties, and wifey’s clothing allowance? What’s a chap to do?

One might have to forego the account at Fortnum’s and shop at Waitrose with all those DEM SAYSHLISTS! Small wonder Christopher “No” Hope of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph told “Rumours that Sir Graham Brady might ask Boris Johnson to the 1922 committee tomorrow to explain his reforms to their ‘second jobs’. It is hard to understate the anger. ‘Are we going to have to keep time sheets?’ one asks me”.

Like all those GHASTLY C2s, eh? QC Jessica Simor was all out of sympathy. “The 1922 Committee making its priorities clear. As if they needed to be any clearer about where their priorities lie … MP for Southwest Sewers on Thames: ‘Honestly, what is the point in being a Tory MP if you can’t capitalise on it? After all that’s the whole point of being a capitalist isn’t it?’” But then came a caution from Sam Coates of Sky News.

Tory MPs I’ve spoken to privately today and last night are very doubtful we ever actually end up with the sort of second jobs reforms promised yesterday, having seen the government motion which sets up for more talks until Jan 31”. Ah, the old kicking the can down the road via the long grass ploy! Plus one word was missing from the proposals.

No “paid consultancy”? Ooh look, a loophole. Or rather, more than one loophole. What would stop someone instead donating to the Tory Party, and then the MP concerned becoming, oh I dunno, a paid “deputy chairman”? Or, more likely, ensuring that the company wishing to purchase the services of an MP had a board of suitably remunerated directors, which the aforesaid MP could be invited to join? Wha-Hey! Job Done!!

The new, cleaner, régime may look something like this

After all, there’s no point having all that gravy sloshing around without a trough to dispense it and plenty of little piggies to snout it all up. If Bozo lied about his rock-solid commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail and the eastern leg of HS2, he can lie about holding his pals in the Tory Party to higher standards and stopping their second jobs.

The gravy train has not been cancelled, but merely slightly delayed. Trebles all round!

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Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Boris, Stanley, And The Groper’s Arms

Many who observed the extra-curricular activities of the Kennedys - JFK being known as “Jack The Zipper”, having had sex with at least three women on the night of his Presidential inauguration in 1961, none of them being his wife, and brother Teddy also being some distance from anything resembling monogamy - concluded that they took after their father. Joe Kennedy treated wife and mistresses equally disgracefully.

Another fine mess, Stanley

It was the thought of “like father, like son” that entered when the news came overnight that the father of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had been accused of being what That Tory Spreadsheet might have termed “very inappropriate with women”. Stanley Johnson, presented by our media class as some kind of lovable old eccentric, has been, so it is alleged, drinking more than occasionally in The Groper’s Arms.

As Beth Rigby at Sky News has told, “Caroline Nokes, a former minister and chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, says the prime minister's father behaved inappropriately towards her at the Conservative Party Conference in 2003 … Ms Nokes, who has represented Romsey and Southampton North in the Commons since 2010, was at the time the prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency”. There was more.

She told Sky News, ‘I can remember a really prominent man - at the time the Conservative candidate for Teignbridge in Devon - smacking me on the backside about as hard as he could and going, “oh, Romsey, you've got a lovely seat”’. The candidate was Stanley Johnson, who later failed to get elected”. Probably as well.

Because Ms Nokes’ allegation is not the only one against Johnson Père: Alibhe Rea of the Staggers has added “Stanley Johnson also groped me at a party at Conservative conference in 2019”. Worse, we already know that Stan The Less Than Man has what may be termed significant previous, having been exposed as a domestic abuser who broke his wife’s nose during one of what appear to have been a whole series of physical attacks.

The reaction of Young Labour chair Jess Barnard echoed that of many others: “Stanley Johnson is a creep and domestic abuser who, despite this being well known, has repeatedly been portrayed as a harmless loveable fool by the press and given multiple platforms across our media. Tired of this happening time and time again”.

Including Have I Got News For You, the same platform that did so much to popularise his son. Ash Sarkar suggested that behaviour could, and should, have been called out rather earlier: “As allegations about Stanley Johnson groping women pour out, I’m once again furious that it takes victims disclosing in the most public way possible for anyone to take the ‘open secret’ of someone’s creepy behaviour seriously”. And then came Bozo.

Because, yes, like father, like son, he also faced those accusations. And when claims were made that he had groped journalist Charlotte Edwardes, guess what? “Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary and former minister for women, gave her wholehearted backing to the prime minister, saying there is ‘no truth in these allegations’, while housing minister, Esther McVey, suggested journalists needed to go back and check it really happened”.

The grotesque sight of Tory ministers covering up for a sex pest, allied to the media class treating two such pests like amiable buffoons. This needs calling out - not covering up.

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Monday, 15 November 2021


As part of its supposed agenda for “levelling up”, the Tories had told the world that they were going to transform transport in the north of England via what became known as Northern Powerhouse Rail. Significant journey time improvements were promised, along with new stations and trains. Our free and fearless press, which had long ago dispensed with any specialist knowledge in this area, merely recycled the claims as fact.

Rumbled again, eh?

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, those of us with some knowledge of both the north of England, and the railway, were soon asking an increasing number of those difficult questions. And many of those questions focused on the airy declaration by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson that a new and faster line would be built from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford.

How would a new fast line via Bradford work? The geography of the area, with the city mostly surrounded by hills, meant that trains from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford had to negotiate a slow and steeply graded approach (in both directions) and then reverse at the city’s Interchange station. There were good reasons that, when BR had rationalised trans-Pennine routes in the 1960s, the line via Huddersfield was given priority.

Much of this will no longer happen

Then we were told that a new through station would be built, replacing the St James Market, itself built on the site of Bradford’s Adolphus Street station, which had been downgraded to a goods terminus and then abandoned. Ri-i-i-ight. So would that mean using the existing line on to Leeds (maximum speed 60mph)? And what about the approach from the south west? Tunnels? Sharp and slow curves? Demolition, perchance?

Worse, the new station would be a little further out of the city centre, maintaining the recent tradition of moving Bradford’s stations just a little further away: the 1970s Interchange station is further out than the Exchange terminus it replaced, and the rebuilt Forster Square station is also slightly less central. But the Government want people to get out of their cars. Ah well, never mind, eh? Then there was the rest of this new route.

The main north Trans-Pennine route - not a particularly fast line ...

Trans-Pennine rail routes have lots of curves and tunnels for a good reason: it’s a hilly area with lots of twisty valleys. One look at the existing route from Manchester to Bradford, and that from Manchester to Leeds via Huddersfield, shows the result. A new fast line could be built - but there would have to be a lot of tunnels and viaducts. Costly.

None of that was discussed by the press. Which was most convenient for Bozo and his pals as they swept to General Election victory in 2019. But now has come the moment of truth: the whole project is highly likely to be canned. Instead, there will be lots of money to upgrade existing routes. Which will mean, at best, electrification. Which has already been promised for the Huddersfield line, but constantly put off. Because cost. Allegedly.

... and the route via Bradford is even less fast

Journey time improvements would then be marginal: there would be next to no scope for line speed improvements using existing alignments. Capacity improvements would mostly not happen: after all, schemes like adding two more through platforms at Manchester’s Piccadilly station never happened, and NPR was much more ambitious.

No-one held the Tories’ feet to the fire. No-one asked the obvious questions. No-one stopped and thought about Bozo’s record of lying to please the crowds. Sad, really.

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