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Friday, 7 May 2021

French Jersey Blockade WASN’T

There was a time when British Governments took foreign policy, and the niceties of trade policy, seriously. Our free and fearless press might tip over the edge into rabid jingoism on occasion, but politicians and hacks were kept apart from one another. That age of serious and responsible diplomacy has now ended, and in no style at all.

The latest exhibition of how foreign policy has been replaced by breast-beating and hot air came yesterday morning as the Daily Mail thundered “Dramatic escalation in stand-off with French fishermen … BORIS SENDS GUNBOATS INTO JERSEY”, with the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, following suit with “Tensions rise after French fishermen threaten blockade today … BORIS SENDS GUNBOATS TO DEFEND JERSEY”.

Given that none of the French boats carried any weapons, the idea that the island of Jersey needed to be defended from them is an interesting one. But, as the Guardian pointed out, this was an easily resolvable matter concerning licences for those French boats to fish in waters off the Channel Islands - some of which hadn’t been issued. Yet.

Moreover, as former Commons Speaker John Bercow pointed out on BBC Question Time yesterday evening, summoning up the ghost of Lord Palmerston by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson on the day many in the UK went to the polls - including a Parliamentary by-election which Labour lost - was not a coincidence.

On top of that, there was no intent to blockade, but merely protest: this was a story, such as it was, confected entirely by the Tories and their press pals, the latter operating increasingly as a propaganda arm of CCHQ. So, as there was nothing more than a protest, there had to be a declaration of victory after the blockade failed to materialise.

And so it came to pass that the Mail followed up its bellicose display yesterday with more of the same, jeering “After our gunboats go in to Jersey, French fishermen execute a familiar manoeuvre … LE GRAND SURRENDER … (BUT WILL THEY NOW BLOCKADE CALAIS?” Dacre has been kicked upstairs, but they still know how to go full Dacre.

Joining in the oh-what-a-giveaway dictation-taking on behalf of Tory high command was the Murdoch Sun, in full Chicken Paté News style: “Jersey Standoff Is Gaul Over … TAKE SPRAT! … Navy sees off French fishermen … PM’s gunships scupper blockade”. There was no blockade, but, so what? The Royal Navy is now Bozo’s personal property!

The reality, for those mocking the French, is that France has a larger and better-equipped navy than the UK, and indeed a larger military overall. And the last time French military technology and its British counterpart met in combat, it was the Brits who came off second best. Or does no-one remember the Falklands campaign and those Exocet missiles?

That time, our Government was able to persuade its French counterpart, as a fellow EU member state (I’ll just say that again, nice and slowly, AS A FELLOW EU MEMBER STATE) to ensure the Argentine military did not get any more air launch Exocets. Also, as the Guardian has concluded, “the dispute seems eminently fixable. The Jersey authorities are looking for a compromise”. Which will mean ending the puerile name-calling.

But good of the Tories and the press to confirm that they are marching in lockstep.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Meghan BENCHES Mail On Sunday

Whenever the Mail titles open up their barrage of spite, there is always a good reason for the nastiness, and today’s Mail Online assault on the Duchess of Sussex was no exception. As the BBC reported yesterday, “The Duchess of Sussex is set to publish a children's book about father-son relationships, as seen through the eyes of mothers”.

There was more. “The Bench will be published on 8 June and is said to be inspired by the bond between her husband Prince Harry and their son Archie. ‘The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father's Day, the month after Archie was born,’ the duchess said in a statement. ‘That poem became this story’”. Enter Mail Online.

Was Meghan Markle inspired by a British children's author with The Bench? Royal watchers accuse Duchess of ripping off Corrinne Averiss' story about a father and son's bond - but author insists she sees ‘no similarities’screamed the headline, the supporting article having done a thorough trawl of hostile Twitter comments.

The problem for Mail Online is that none of those screaming “rip-off” had read a word of the Duchess’ book (and neither had former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who used the book news as his latest excuse to keep blubbering about losing his access to Haz and Megs). Ms Averiss said it wasn’t a rip-off, and that was that.

Well, maybe not all of that: what Mail Online had not told its readers, although its management would most likely have known, is that they had to bust the proverbial gut getting their knocking copy out there before the bad legal news arrived. Yes, the Duchess just won another court case against the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker.

Back to the BBC: “The Duchess of Sussex has won the remainder of her copyright claim against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of a letter to her estranged father. Meghan won most of her claim for misuse of private information and copyright infringement in February. But the newspaper had suggested she may not have been the sole copyright owner”. A different kind of bench - the High Court kind - had spoken.

Why this conclusion? “The duchess won her case after her former communications secretary denied co-writing the letter”. Do go on. “The High Court heard that [Jason] Knauf has ‘emphatically’ denied co-writing the letter to Thomas Markle. Through his lawyers, he said ‘it was the duchess's letter alone’ … The court also heard that lawyers representing ‘the Keeper of the Privy Purse, acting on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen’ told Meghan's solicitors they ‘did not consider the Crown to be the copyright owner’”.

Which is probably why Mail Online moved so quickly to sow the seeds of doubt in as many readers’ minds as possible, and why the appalling Piers Morgan snivelled even more loudly than usual about Megs’ new writing venture. We’ll get the usual whinnying from Mail contributors about “they’re totally separate entities”, but hardly anyone believes that nowadays. You sue one Mail outlet, they all come after you.

Only this time, they smeared someone prepared to not only stand up to them, but take them to the cleaners for good measure. You lost, Mail people. Get over it.

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UK-India Trade Deal ISN’T

The BBC responded positively yesterday to news that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had made one of his extra-Parliamentary announcements. “The prime minister has announced new trade and investment deals with India worth £1bn. It includes more than £533m of new investment from India into the UK, which is expected to create about 6,000 jobs”. Sounds interesting. And there was more.

Downing Street said the new partnership would ‘pave the way’ for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement … The deal, announced ahead of a virtual meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, includes a £240m investment by the Serum Institute of India, which will support clinical trials, research and possibly the manufacturing of vaccines”.

The deal”? Do go on. “Indian investment deals will create 1,000 new UK jobs each at health and tech firms Infosys, HCL Technologies and Mphasis. Some 667 UK jobs will be created at Q-Rich Creations, 500 jobs at Wipro and 465 at 12 Agro … Trade Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC that the jobs would be created ‘within the next year or so’”.

Only further down the article are we told “[Ms Truss] said those commitments were ‘very different’ from a free-trade deal, which the two governments will start negotiating on this autumn. Discussions will include lowering tariff barriers and new agreements on ‘digital and data’”. Also, “to do that, the UK is likely to have to relax immigration rules between India and the UK, Ms Truss added”. More immigrants! Gammon meltdown!!

Moreover, as the Guardian cautioned, “At the moment, the UK conducts £23bn of trade - exports plus imports - with India every year … India was the UK’s 19th biggest export market, just below Singapore, Sweden and Saudi Arabia, and exports actually fell slightly in 2019. By contrast, exports were up strongly to China, which came sixth in the league table at £30bn. In comparison, UK exports to the EU totalled £293bn”. There was more.

As a result, an extra £1bn (a 4% increase), barely moves the dial and underlies the importance of a more comprehensive trade deal … While such a deal would have benefits to both countries, striking one will be far from simple. India is a relatively closed economy with a long history of protectionism”. The Independent has now brought worse news.

The Indy put it directly: “The EU is poised to steal a march on the UK in the hunt for a post-Brexit trade deal with India, as Boris Johnson announced only an 'enhanced partnership' with Delhi … Brussels hailed 'clear momentum', with talks on a free trade agreement to be confirmed as early as Saturday, threatening to put the UK in the slow lane in the race for negotiations”. Plus the EU has a team of seasoned negotiators ready to go. Do go on.

Those negotiations were suspended in 2013 after disagreements over tariff rules for car parts and free-movement rights for professionals, but resuming them has been a priority for both sides. The move was discussed in a call on Monday between Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, and Mr Modi”. And it got worse.

Trade deals with India and the United States are the priorities for the government, Brexit supporters having once promised they would be delivered easily and quickly. But with US president Joe Biden also stalling on talks, the UK has been forced to focus on deals with far-flung Australia and New Zealand, despite those agreements offering virtually no economic gain”. Also, Ms Truss has managed to insult the Aussies, which won’t exactly speed any new trade deal. The Beeb has misled its audience on this one.

The UK is in the slow lane. And the EU isn’t. What you won’t hear from Brexit boosters.

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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Brillo Begging Bowl Brandished

It seems that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not the only one apparently attempting to solicit donations for the benefit of Himself Personally Now: the people at Press Gazette, apparently more keen than anyone else to talk up new TV News entrant GB News, have brought us a most interesting admission.

It’s been known for some time that Gammon Broadcasting™ (“Bacon’s News Channel”) had a potentially flawed funding model: advertising alone would most likely not pay to keep the show on the road, and unlike Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) there was no chance of the subscription revenue that keeps FNC afloat. Or was there?

Adam Sherwin at iNews has been on the case, revealing “intriguing new details of the financing plan for GB News that will help claw back the channel’s £60m start-up costs. Under the proposals, ‘superfans' will pay a monthly subscription fee giving them bonus content including access to star presenters on the soon-to-launch challenger to the BBC”.

There was more. “The GB News business model envisages turning its audience into a ‘community’, which will pay a monthly fee to access additional content behind a digital paywall … Insiders believe around 135,000 ‘superfans’, sharing [Andrew] Neil’s belief that the BBC and Sky News are ‘out of touch’ could pay a fee of £5 a month for the privilege”.

Sherwin cautions “GB News, which will air on Freeview, Sky and all other main platforms, cannot rely on advertising revenue alone. The live UK audience for rolling news is limited”. So how is the circle to be squared? “GB News will focus on talk radio-style chat led by a provocative line-up of presenters [and this way] The channel believes it can improve on the daily audience of about 110,000 viewers a day which watches Sky News”.

And as Fred Flintstone might have put it, hold it … HOLD IT! Let’s do some of those back of the envelope quick and dirty calculations: all those presenters and pundits, along with the probably hundreds of support staff, the studios and equipment, the publicity budget, all the costs of getting on air - the estimate of £30 million a year begins to sound accurate.

All those “Superfans”, should there be 135,000 of them, and should they all be prepared to stump up £5 a month, that would bring in around £8 million a year. Where’s the other £22 million coming from, let alone the £60 million quoted for start-up costs? Advertising? With campaigners ready to jump on the first mis-step? And an untested product?

Press Gazette point out that this “mimics Fox News which has started offering its most enthusiastic viewers access to extra programming via streaming for $5.99 per month”. But FNC is a long-established brand with the clout of the Murdoch empire behind it. GB News is not. Also, what will the paywalled “extra content” consist of?

Will there be an outtakes reel? Perhaps the overrated hosts and pundits will be seen talking over the day’s “news” and telling one another how wonderful they are? But if there is anything worthwhile in that - and it’s a big if - it will only need a few subscribers to record it and stick it on YouTube - so everyone can see it without paying anything.

But good of GB News to admit that they have money worries. We’ve already got one TalkRADIO. And that’s free to view. The begging bowl no longer looks all that brill, Brillo.

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Murdoch ‘Meddling In Scots Election’

The Murdoch Times, like its more downmarket sister title the Sun, publishes a Scottish edition in addition to that targeting England and Wales. And that edition has serious political matters to consider: if the SNP were to win an overall majority in next Thursday’s elections for the Holyrood Parliament, independence would not merely be back on the agenda; it would be centre stage, a serious problem for the Tories in Westminster.

It is with that in mind that a story splashed across yesterday’s front page should be considered: headlined “Iran ‘meddling in Scots election’”, it cites a report from a so-called “think tank” suggesting that the dastardly Iranians are active on social media platforms, posing as independence supporters. But here a problem enters.

The “think tank” is the Henry Jackson Society, and the Times does not interrogate or otherwise verify that source. The HJS was the single source that the Telegraph’s supposed expert on matters Royal, Camilla Tominey, used to smear the Duchess of Sussex by linking the Grenfell Cook Book to ISIS, or whatever they’re called this week.

Back in 2012, I noted that Marko Attila Hoare, who had left the HJS after serving that organisation in a senior capacity for the previous seven years, had concluded that it had become “a mere caricature of its former self”. It was “No longer ... a centrist, bipartisan think-tank”, having “become an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge”.

And so, surprise surprise, along comes the HJS to tell anyone gullible enough to listen that the Scary Muslims™ are interfering the Scottish elections. Anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside should have got a reliable second source for that claim, but the Murdoch press did not. And Katherine O’Donnell, a former Times Scotland night editor, had rather more to say about the article and its single source (Thread HERE).

She notes that “the source for the Times’ story is a report by an academic whose comments about race have been disowned by his university and who, coincidentally … has written for the right-wing magazine Spiked … Henry Jackson Society members past and present have links to the US far-right and to Trump and to anti-Islamic and white supremacy individuals and groups, including Steve Bannon and Breitbart, the Gatestone Institute and the Mercers”. And her conclusion?

This central claim made by [Paul] Stott MAY BE TRUE and we know that the Iranian government is deeply unpleasant. But even so, we still have no idea from the Times report whether readers should pinch the nose before ingesting the HJS report due to the possibility it may be … a) an exaggeration by right-wingers with the intention of casting shade on the forthcoming Scottish election and thereby the legitimacy of its winners, b) a real and substantial threat to democracy or c) the punchline of a laughably incompetent plot? … By any measure this is not good journalism”.

But the article does serve one important purpose: it tells us that the Murdoch mafiosi do not approve of Scottish independence. That, after all, would mean Scotland moving to rejoin the European Union. And the Murdochs, having had Scotland and the EU torn apart from one another, is not about to let them come back together without a fight.

What a mess The Times has become” laments Ms O’Donnell. But a mess with a purpose.

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Sunday, 2 May 2021

Bozo - Money, Lying - And Kompromat

As Tory poll numbers show the first signs that Wallpapergate may be beginning to register with the electorate, a remarkable coalition of journalists has come together, whether by coincidence or otherwise, to tell those voters to look somewhere else. Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is variously held to be on his uppers, and not some mere lazy and narcissistic liar who is not fit for office.

The Murdoch Sunday Times has led the way in deflecting attention from the inconvenient suggestion that the recent refurbishment of the 11 Downing Street flat may have cost as much as £200,000. “Is Boris Johnson too poor to be PM?” they ask. QTWTAIN. It is, for starters, not the “being Prime Minister” which is causing the alleged money worries.

What's that, Boris? Two page spread, you say?

Small wonder, then, that when the ST Tweeted out the teaser “Johnson has told friends that he needs to earn about £300,000 a year - twice his salary - to keep his head above water, while a former No 10 insider said it was ‘received wisdom’ that he is permanently broke”, the response was not quite what the paper’s hacks may have expected.

James Ball mused “Full-time job at London living wage: £22,500 … Median UK full-time salary: £31,500 … Top 1% salary point: £192,000 … What Boris Johnson says he needs to live: £300,000 … Man of the people!” LBC host James O’Brien added “Poor people with such chaotic personal lives used to end up on Jeremy Kyle. Says a lot about Brexit Britain that this man has ended up in charge”. Then a second front was opened up.

This came from BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, who has penned a longish read titled “Boris Johnson: What is the PM's relationship with the truth?” Do we even need to ask that question? No matter, she manages to compare Bozo to the late Steve Jobs, while driving it around the houses instead of giving us the obvious and simple answer.

Bozo is a congenital liar. He was sacked from his first job in journalism for it, he was sacked from the Tory front bench for it, and most recently, Peter Stefanovic has compiled the occasions when he has indulged in the practice before the Commons (the video has garnered over 14 million views, but the BBC for some reason has ignored it).

Bozo lies his way out of every tight corner or difficult question, if the truth is inconvenient to him. He lies in order to kick the can down the road. It’s part of the act. What is rather more relevant, and way more serious, is what happens when his being allegedly skint, and in an abusive relationship with the truth, are picked up on by those hostile to the UK.

Money worries? Most interesting

Former BBC man John Sweeney saw the ST claim and mused “Boris ‘is skint’ shock - kind of intelligence the Russian secret state might act on”. This is not so far-fetched as it may seem: Bozo, as Sweeney points out, has been a regular guest at Evgeny Lebedev’s Palazzo not far from Perugia. He’s attended parties there without any security detail being present. He has, in return, gifted Lebedev a seat in the House of Lords.

Evgeny Lebedev’s father Alexander was a colonel in the KGB. As Sweeney points out, “Alexander is the source of Yevgeny’s money. And no-one stays rich in Russia for long without the blessing of Vladimir Putin”. The BBC and ST pieces are mere dead cats.

Putin latched on to Trump. The question now is, has he done the same with Bozo?

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Saturday, 1 May 2021

Judy Gatiss - Ignore, Block, Move On

Being committed to anti-racism, sadly, means attracting adverse comment from those who are not thus committed: not just the openly racist and otherwise bigoted, but also those who use racism to further their own ends, like many who work in and around our free and fearless press, who may no longer deal with explicit racism, but all too often, you can see it from there. And then there are a whole range of bad faith actors.

The claims, and the spelling, ain't making it

These, from personal experience, tend to get muted or even blocked on Twitter, given that watching paint dry is far more entertaining, and that there are only so many hours in a day. But recently, despite my having blocked her, someone called Judy Gatiss is appearing with increasing regularity, her modus operandi being, it seems, to go after known anti-fascists by smearing them, even indulging in doxxing. That is bang out of order.

What the owner of this account, and those who are taken in by its presence, seem not to understand is this: anyone who deals with anti-fascists knows who the good people are, and who they are not. When the good people start to attract abuse from someone who pretends to be an anti-fascist, it is not difficult to conclude that the person doing the attacking is probably mistaken, or a bad faith actor indulging in trolling.

And that is when we arrive at Judy Gatiss, who I blocked after seeing the account going after people I knew to be committed anti-fascists, smearing as it went. Some may have been taken in; those people might usefully reconsider. Some of the allegations the account makes are untrue and potentially actionable, but then, it’s possible the calculation has been made that those targeted don’t have the means to go to law.

It’s clear that Judy Gatiss is a disruptive presence, intentionally or otherwise. So the people at Resisting Hate, themselves no strangers to abusive behaviour, put together some of this account’s recent social media history in order to demonstrate the problem.

The result was all too predictable: Judy Gatiss did not take the hint and the attacks got worse. More Tweeters were targeted. Tagging online news providers and the accounts of well-known people has continued. Those telling her she’s wrong may find themselves smeared in return. Engaging with Judy Gatiss is pointless.

Genuine anti-fascists do not smear and doxx other anti-fascists, and nor do they seek to divide and disrupt them. Why Judy Gatiss does that could be the sign of a bad faith actor, it could be self-promotion, or indeed a sign that she needs help. But none of those explanations justify the abuse that is being meted out to good, decent anti-fascists.

So what to do? Simples. One, read the Resisting Hate explainer, which goes into detail on the Judy Gatiss account and its behavioural habits. Two, block the Judy Gatiss account. And then Three, move on and leave that account frothing and ranting. Ultimately, those few who have been taken in will tire of the bad behaviour, and follow suit.

The old Usenet adage was Don’t Feed The Trolls. It endures, even today. That is all.

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Friday, 30 April 2021

Tory Fox Returns To BBC Hen House

As if the BBC had not yet been infiltrated by enough Tories, the Government of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has decided to impose another on the increasingly emasculated Corporation. Robbie Gibb, a self-confessedThatcherite Tory”, is to become the BBC Board’s member for England - despite his recent exploits.

Who's the new board member batting for?

Those include, as the Mail on Sunday told at the time, “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”. Which would be about what, exactly? "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”. Which is what he oversaw.

Remember former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil using the Sunday Politics to push climate change denial? Or the infamous Daily Politics orchestration of a shadow ministerial resignation live on air, timed to give Young Dave maximum advantage against Jezza? Well impartial that was. As was touting for cash in order to fund a competitor.

Is it this outfit ...

A Channel 4 News investigation noted thatIn a series of late night emails to Mr Gibb, [Arron] Banks described the [Panorama] story as a ‘smear campaign’ and threatened to make a formal complaint … Afterwards, Mr Banks emailed another Leave.EU director, saying: ‘I don’t think they will Run it after all that lot . You will have a busy week next week since Robbie will react by giving us massive exposure”. And there was more.

In his book about the referendum campaign, Arron Banks recounted the incident, claiming: ‘Robbie Gibb is being quite helpful and says he’s trying to hose it down'”. That, it seems, was the Panorama exposé that never was: investigating illegal behaviour by the two Leave campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 referendum.

... or this one?

No bad Brexit news was, apparently, getting through. Moreover, as James Chapman revealed, “I had dinner with [Robbie Gibb] and others while working [at the Department for exiting the EU] and he had lots of interesting suggestions for how to get more positive Brexit stories on [BBC News]”. What was that about “impartiality”?

Gibb, in the meantime, has been dispensing punditry with the assistance of the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, exemplified by the headline “Tackling BBC bias will be a mammoth task” and his Tweet promoting the article asserting “New BBC staff social media guidelines published today, may be the start of reform but I doubt it will end there and nor should it. The BBC can only justify itself as a publicly-funded broadcaster if it provides something its rivals do not - impartial news and entertainment”.

Robbie Gibb’s problem is that, as a self-declared Thatcherite and ardent Brexiteer, he is bound to view “bias” through that prism. By his own admission, he joined the BBC to correct what he, as a Tory - “not a Chris Patten Tory” though - saw as bias. The result has been shows that benefit the Tories, and take the heat off Brexiteer wrongdoing. That is not rectifying bias. It is introducing bias - by intervention, and indeed censorship.

Now he has been appointed by Bozo and Co to the BBC’s board. Having failed to totally foul up the Corporation last time around, it looks like he’s been awarded a second chance.

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Brexit Still Not Someone Else’s Fault

For those who shilled for Brexit, promoted Brexit through their writings and media appearances, celebrated Brexit, and are now defending Brexit, reality is proving not merely inconvenient, but downright difficult. As a result, an alternate reality is being spun, not least by the likes of Allister Heath, who has for some reason been made the Sunday edition editor at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph.

Allister Heath

In addition to this job, Heath churns out wayward and revisionist drivel on the EU, the latest being a shoo-in for a Terry Fuckwitt Gold Award. Titled “The EU’s abominable behaviour is about to spark a new Brexit war”, this weapons grade bullpucky details a series of supposed “provocations” coming from those dastardly Eurocrats.

These include “the despicable, counterproductive demonisation of AstraZeneca [not from the EU, it hasn’t], the ban on the exports of shellfish [not exceptional, just applying EU rules to a Third Country], the threats to disrupt the City [there haven’t been any] and, of course, the intransigent, tone-deaf approach to Northern Ireland [which is down to the behaviour of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, not the EU]”.

On Northern Ireland, Heath is especially stupid: “Arlene Foster, the DUP chief and First Minister, has joined a long list of senior British politicians destroyed by our entanglement with the EU. Her departure … is in reality due to the chaos wreaked by the Protocol”. Bullshit. She trusted Bozo, and like everyone else who has done that, is now able to repent at leisure, having been conned by someone who cares only about Himself.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was devised by Bozo and Co, cheered and endorsed by the Tories, cheered equally enthusiastically by their pals in our free and fearless press, all despite the warnings of what it would entail. Like anything and everything else to do with Brexit, it is not someone else’s fault. The nasty EU did not make the poor UK do it.

One wonders what Heath’s lame excuse will be when addressing the latest Brexit dividend, the failure of the UK to agree a fishing deal with Norway. As a result, UK boats will not be able to fish in Norway’s sub-Arctic waters, and so will not be able to land any fish caught there. But Norway will be able to benefit from those fisheries, and indeed export that fish tariff-free into the UK. UK Fisheries is not impressed with the outcome.

Their CEO noted the Government failed “even to maintain the rights we have had to fish in Norwegian waters for decades … In consequence, there will be no British-caught Arctic cod sold through chippies for our national dish. It will all be imported from the Norwegians, who will continue to sell their fish products to the UK tariff-free, while we are excluded from these waters. Quite simply, this is a disgrace and a national embarrassment”.

So, as the BBC has reported, “UK Fisheries said it had invested approximately £180m in the last 20 years in the Humberside fishing industry, and had planned to put in a further £100m. The company's giant vessel, the Kirkella, normally catches around 10% of all the fish sold in the UK's chip shops”. Another post-Brexit bungle. Not someone else’s fault.

While Allister Heath cites Elizabeth I, Castlereagh and the Cobden-Chevalier treaty, and talks of war, the reality is that the UK “getting tough” got us nowhere, and will continue to do so. He should get real and own his bad advice. Brexit is still not someone else’s fault.

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Thursday, 29 April 2021

Peterborough Anti-Semitism Hypocrisy

We are discovering, sadly, that despite moves to educate and inform, and to penalise instances of hate speech and worse, racism never really went away. That includes anti-Semitism, which has been talked about in recent years in connection with one political party. While Labour has had the mud slung at it, the Tories have thus far escaped with barely a blemish on their record - despite their indulgence in the practice.

Suella Braverman, Priti Patel, Ben Bradley, Jacob Rees Mogg, even Michael Gove - all veered rather too close to the anti-Semitism line, or even crossed it. But the tsunami of condemnation that crashed over Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership would not do the same to The Blue Team. Now has come a string of anti-Semitism accusations made towards both Labour and Tory in the Cambridgeshire city of Peterborough.

As Jewish News has reported, “Both the Labour and Conservative parties in the city of Peterborough have been rocked by serious allegations of antisemitism amongst members”. So what action is being taken? “Labour have moved to suspend at least 14 individuals, including at least SEVEN councillors, from both the Peterborough and North Cambridgeshire CLPs”. And what about the Tories? Any action there?

The Tories are facing calls to act over allegations made against at least three local members, who are either sitting councillors or candidates … Andrew Percy, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism (APPGAA) told Jewish News he had asked for their ‘immediate removal’ from the party”. But were any of the three even suspended?

Well, not as such. “A spokesperson for Peterborough Conservatives added they ‘utterly reject antisemitism.’”. However, “Jewish News has also learned of growing concern amongst communal leaders about the failure of the Conservative Party to act over allegations of antisemitism within local parties across the country … ‘In quite a few cases, investigations into allegations involving Tory Party members appear to drift into a black hole,’ said one senior figure within the community”. That’s most revealing.

It would, at least, show consistency: the “drifting into a black hole” could equally be applied to the Tory response to exposure of Islamophobia among its membership. And what is worse is that some of those who might have been expected to pick up on this issue and pursue the Tories on the subject have so far been absent from the scene.

For instance, there is no sign of the Tories’ inaction on the Twitter feed of the Jewish Chronicle. Equally absent from the scene is the feed of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, although the latter includes a signposting to an article tellingA Conservative candidate in the coming local elections has reportedly expressed remorse over a social media post that included the phrase ‘Jew Boy’”. No condemnation, then.

Anyone could form the impression that allegations of anti-Semitism against Tories “drift into a black hole” because no-one is on the party’s case. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Wednesday, 28 April 2021

GB News - Will It Be DOA?

Every week brings a new signing, sometimes more than one: GB News, already re-christened Gammon Broadcasting News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), has been splashing the cash in order to assemble a singularly unappealing roster of generally right-leaning hosts and pundits - one hates to describe them as “talent” - in advance of a launch date which, we are told, is fast approaching. But all may not be well with the new venture.

One problem GB News has yet to overcome is actually launching, which may sound rather like stating the bleeding obvious, but as Press Gazette has noted, “The channel’s launch date has not yet been confirmed … [Andrew] Neil said last year it was aiming for a March 2021 launch but on 18 March the broadcaster said it would be launching ‘later this year’”.

Why should this be? Well, as PG reported in late January, “Andrew Neil’s GB News has launched a recruitment drive for 140 jobs, calling for ‘disruptors and innovators’ who want to help ‘reshape television and digital news’ … Available roles on the 24-hour TV and online news channel … include producers of all levels, video journalists and reporters, technical production journalists, creative journalists and executive assistants”.

She says it ain't worth the candle ...

Maybe that exercise is proceeding not quite as expected? No matter, this was a market so ready to be tapped that the Murdoch mafiosi was readying its own News UK TV channel to compete with GB News. Except, er, it wasn’t: yesterday lunchtime, Jim Waterson at the Guardian brought bad news for devotees of right-leaning news channels.

... so they're sticking with TalkRADIO

Rupert Murdoch's News UK TV channel has lost its boss David Rhodes, and the team will now be folded in under the company's radio division who do talkRadio, etc. Existing team will be making shows for streaming services and do more professional-style broadcasting of talkRadio”. The Guardian’s follow-up article told why this had happened.

Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of his News UK company, told staff the enormous cost of getting a television news channel on air meant it did not make business sense to push ahead … Brooks’ declaration that it would not be possible to make a healthy profit from traditional television news will increase attention on the finances of the forthcoming Andrew Neil-fronted GB News channel”. Why might that be?

Well, GB News has raised around £60 million. But the operation could burn through around £40 million a year without subscriber revenue - which it won’t get in the UK, unlike Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) gets in the USA, or, indeed, without significant advertiser revenue, the latter being vulnerable to campaigner attack if the new channel veers off to the right and starts trying to shock in order to attract viewers.

Worse still is the sight of GB News alleged Political Correspondent Tom Harwood, formerly replacement teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, being reduced to promoting biscuits this week, then later admitting “Something’s got to tick me over until the launch”. Will it turn into Waiting for Godot TV?

Will Gammon Broadcasting turn out to be the mouse that never roared, a white elephant destined to be DOA? It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of irrelevancies.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Nadine Dorries - Not Helping Bozo

Some would by now have decided that the best course of action would be to keep schtum. But not Mid-Bedfordshire’s Tory MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who has denounced the claims that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson ranted “Let the bodies pile high in their thousands” in response to demands for another lockdown, only to find that more and more people are prepared to say he really said it.

After the Daily Mail broke news of the now-infamous quote, Ms Dorries went into action. “This is an outright lie. Not one named source or substantiated fact. Days before Hartlepool by election and a wide set of local/PCC/Mayoral elections. It’s mendacious, vexatious co ordinated gossip given in order to negatively influence the outcome”.

And when former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan suggested it was a resigning matter if Bozo did say it, there she was again. “It is an outright lie. As you know Piers, a by-election and major local/mayoral elections happening in days. Not one substantiated fact or named source in that article”. That, it seems, was unwise.

Not much later, ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston said he said it. “I am told he shouted it in his study just after he agreed to the second lockdown”. Two witnesses “have corroborated the Daily Mail's account to me. Also these sources insist they did not brief the Mail, so that suggests there are three sources”. What say Ms Dorries now?

When I called David Cameron a posh boy, everyone knew who made the comment, I owned it with my name on it and I took the knives in my back as a consequence. Man up Robert, name your cowardly (fictitious) source”. Two things here. One, her passing an opinion is a seriously false equivalence. And Two, er, over to the BBC.

Boris Johnson said he would rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than take the country into a third lockdown, sources familiar with the conversations have told the BBC”. Now, both the Beeb and ITV had backed up the Mail’s claim. So it should have been no surprise that, this morning, the Mail has returned to the story. And so has the fragrant Nadine.

‘Fresh sources confirm.’ Who? What are their names? Where is the evidence? This is untrue. It’s unsubstantiated gossip invented 11 days before a byelection in order to influence the outcome”. Be careful what you wish for, Ms Dorries. Remember Peston?

Well, “Two sources who claim Boris Johnson did say he would rather have ‘bodies pile high in their thousands’ than implement a third lockdown are prepared to speak publicly. If the prime minister continues to deny it, they will speak under oath, says [Robert Peston]”. Also, Bozo has done the denial thing in the past, only to then to be proved wrong.

He claimed he wasn’t having an affair with Petronella Wyatt. But he was. And Michael Howard sacked him - for lying about it. He claimed the phone hacking scandal was a Labour put-up job. That wasn’t true either. More recently, he’s made some highly creative claims about Brexit that are steadily unravelling. His word carries very little weight.

And if Nadine Dorries keeps on calling “liar” on others, only to find that they were right, her word won’t carry much weight in future either. I’ll just leave that one there.

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