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Monday, 17 January 2022

BBC Funding And Dooda Stupidity

As the travails of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson continue, with the Mirror revealing today that he attended yet another of those Downing Street parties that he didn’t know about because they were really work meetings, so the more unpleasant and vindictive part of the Tory Party, and its allies in and around our free and fearless press, has latched on to a suitable scapegoat, a repository for blame.


To no surprise at all, the BBC has been selected for this purpose, and now stands accused of hounding poor Bozo mercilessly. But here a problem enters: every revelation regarding Partygate has come from elsewhere: ITV, the Mirror, even the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph. So the Beeb bashing excuses have had to change accordingly.

Cue self promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer, who has recently reminded us that she wrote an article for the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday last year sneering at those attending the G7 summit while not wearing face coverings. “Any pub landlord who’d allowed such a large group to behave like this in their pub garden would have risked losing their licence” she trilled, thus demonstrating a total lack of knowledge on the rules.


At the time of the G7, gathering indoors in pubs, with provision of food and drink by table service, was not illegal. So it was in St Ives at G7 time that BBC Host and pundit Andrew Marr caught The Rona. Sitting at the same table was someone I know personally: he and his wife also caught it and were seriously unwell. More in the same pub caught it.

Having seen Ms Hartley Dooda parading her ignorance and lack of research so openly, it should surprise no-one that she has not only waded in to the BBC funding debate, but has managed to display a significant amount of sheer stupidity while doing so: “I pay the BBC licence fee and these are the only services I ever use. Good value for money…?


So she “only” uses BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News Channel, BBC Parliament, Radio 4, Radio 5 … and BBC iPlayer, That’s the same BBC iPlayer that allows you to summon up every recently broadcast item of content. Everything the Beeb has to offer. Including offerings from all those channels she doesn’t watch. That’s stupidity #1.

Not stated, but blindingly obvious, is stupidity #2 - that she, and everyone else who pays any kind of tax, does not use all the services she, and they, pay for. Those without school age children pay for schools. We all pay for the fire service; most will, thankfully, never have to call on it. We don’t, generally, call on the armed services. But we pay for them - and the nuclear deterrent, a pointless waste of rather more than the BBC budget.


How much do the alternatives charge, compared with the 43p a day for the BBC? Netflix? Sky? Disney Plus? Moreover, Ms Hartley Dooda says she doesn’t use BBC Online, but her Twitter feed contains screen shots from it. Perhaps she’s a secret Beeb sleeper agent, making opposition to the Licence Fee look so stupid as to ensure its continuation.

The BBC does not always get it right, and has been pointlessly bending over backwards to appease the Tories of late, but as Joni Mitchell put it, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater (hello left-wing critics).

Rupert Murdoch’s going to have to get himself a better critic. Cos this one’s bust.


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Sunday, 16 January 2022

Piers Morgan Still Obsessed

For reasons best known to its management, the BBC today invited former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan to review the papers on the temporary replacement for The Andy Marr Show™, Sunday Morning, hosted by Sophie Raworth. This gave him the opportunity to promote his upcoming daily “global” TV show, for which it is alleged he is being paid, along with a regular Sun column, £50 million over the next three years.

And what's more, Ron ...

So what positives would he bring to the studio? What reasons would he give sceptical viewers to tune in to The All-New Percy Moron Show™? What would a seasoned and experienced broadcaster have done? What would a sensible person have done? What would Nietzsche have done? They might not, whisper it quietly, have bored the audience crapless with the parading of sad obsession. Which is what Morgan duly did.

The Great Man was not doing too well on the news du jour: he was all for alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doing the decent thing and resigning (as if), but when Ms Raworth bowled him a curve ball, mentioning that Morgan was now at the Sun, asking why the paper appeared reluctant to cover Partygate and mentioning the presence there of one James Slack, the stream of confident hot air suddenly dried up.

Piers who?

Sad to say, it started up again as soon as the word Sussex was pitched. Haz and Megs are apparently considering a UK visit - along with their family. As the BBC has reported, “Prince Harry is seeking a judicial review against a refusal of the Home Office to allow him to personally pay for police protection when in the UK. The US-based Duke of Sussex says his private security team does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad”.

There was more. “Prince Harry wants to personally fund police protection, ‘not to impose on the taxpayer’ … [He] is arguing that his private security team cannot replicate the work of police protection in the UK, with their access to local intelligence and legal jurisdiction … A statement said: ‘Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life. He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats'”.

Yeah, Piers who?

None of that troubled Morgan. It was “these two” causing more trouble and embarrassment for the Queen (Gawd Bless ‘Er). He didn’t care that Haz was offering to foot the bill, and went on a rant about how the Sussexes were making hundreds of millions of Dollars, while not seeing that Himself was making many millions of dosh, too.

The bonhomie, the chatty nature of his earlier pronouncements on Bozo and Partygate, had vanished. It was as if a switch had been flicked: the red mist descended and off he went. It was the same red mist that saw him flouncing off the ITV Good Morning Britain set after Alex Beresford tried to point out the obsessiveness of his Sussex rants.


It looks as if Morgan is still hung up on Megs blanking him. But that is over, and it isn’t coming back. She isn’t going to reappear at the Scarsdale Tavern. She doesn’t secretly fancy him. She hasn’t mentioned him since, because she’s not interested. That will not change. But it will mean he wasted his opportunity to plug his show on Sunday Morning. Because all viewers will remember is him going off on one at the Sussexes. Again.

It was obsession on GMB. It’s still obsession now. And maybe it ain’t worth £50 million.


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Saturday, 15 January 2022

Complicit Press Can’t Let Bozo Go

The news that had been bad a week ago has now become dire: lockdown-busting parties were not some kind of occasional aberration in Downing Street, but a regular event, with at least one taking place every week. To assist in the provision of sufficient wine - the Parliamentary estate’s preferred route to oblivion - a fridge was delivered to hold more than 30 bottles of the stuff. Regular replenishment came from a nearby Tesco Metro.


And just to put the lid on alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s protestations of innocence, witnesses (plural) have told how he either joined in with, or at least encouraged, the gatherings. Faced with the reality of Bozo’s serial lawbreaking, and subsequent serially lying his way out of it, what would a sensible press pack have done? What would Nietzsche have done? But here a problem enters.

The straightforward response to the mounting revelations, and the clear contempt in which the Tories have held the little people, many of whom voted them into power, would be to tell their readers that the game was up, he’d run out of road, and duly throw the SOB under one of his vanity buses. But our free and fearless press can’t, and won’t, do that.

Cheersh!

Because they are so heavily invested in The Adoration Of The Boris. They, the Tories, and, it increasingly appears, the Metropolitan Police, have merged into one big, happy and worryingly incestuous family. The cops saw nothing, and they won’t investigate. The press will keep on wiping Bozo’s arse for fear that their own party might come to an end.

So it was that today’s Sun and Mail attempted to deflect away from their hero: for the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, the pretend journalist inexplicably elevated to become Sun political editor, this task has been accomplished by lying. “Boris Johnson said sorry to the Queen yesterday” he claimed. Bozo did’t say sorry. Number 10 did.

Look over there at the Royals!

Then the deflection: “The apology piles pressure on Prince Andrew”. Fuck off. Just fuck right off. But thanks for letting us know that Creepy Uncle Rupe doesn’t yet think the time has come for him to anoint Bozo’s successor. Meanwhile, over at the Northcliffe House bunker, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is reimposing himself on the Mail.

Only the Vagina Monologue (for it is he) has the brass neck to recycle an almost year-old non-story. “STARMER THE COVID PARTY HYPOCRITE … He was pictured drinking beer at indoor gathering when restrictions were in place. But guess what, he says it was a ‘work gathering’”. The blurry photo was run by the Sun last year. Is it beer? Who knows?

Look over there at last year's non story!

And, indeed, who cares? It hardly compares to the apparently regular descent into an advanced state of alcoholic derangement practised by Downing Street staff, other hangers-on, and a variety of Tory politicians including Bozo himself. The PM, meanwhile, is preparing to dump the blame on others within Number 10 and elsewhere, forcing them to resign so that he can save his skin. Which is something else the Mail and Sun won’t tell you.

All the while, Tory poll numbers are in freefall, the only silver lining being the stubbornly high percentage of Don’t Knows. This the right-wing press does not want to hear. So on goes the peddling of lame propaganda and the dumping on someone, anyone, else.

For press, politicians and Police, the message is clear: reality is a state of mind.


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Friday, 14 January 2022

Dead Cats Won’t Save Bozo

As yesterday progressed, the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, searching for something, anything, to take the heat off alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, unearthed not one, but two significantly sized dead cats. But alas, even they were not enough to distract from yet more allegations of improper partying.

James Slack, revolving door user supreme

First came the story of alleged Chinese spying. Labour MP Barry Gardiner was the name in the frame. But it did not take long for a photo to emerge of the alleged spy bending the ear of Young Dave, who, as he had been PM for six years, would have been rather more of a security risk. Hot on the heels of that setback came the claim that release of this information may not have been unconnected to the Home Secretary. A Bozo loyalist.

That loyalty is because Priti Patel owes her elevation to cabinet rank to Bozo. Any other occupant of 10 Downing Street would have her out of the Home Office sharpish. But there was still that second dead cat, the stripping of Royal titles from Prince Andrew. This was front page lead for the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. Which was not a coincidence.

How it works: now you see the lawbreaking ... 

Because last night came news of yet more of those drink-fuelled parties, one of them a leaving bash in the Number 10 basement, complete with DJ - the night before the Queen mourned alone in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel, as part of a socially distanced funeral service for Prince Philip. Thus turning disrespect up to the max.

This, as with other lockdown-busting parties, has been kept off the front page of the Sun for one very good reason: the basement bash, along with the alleged suitcase full of alcoholic beverages from a nearby Co-Op which somehow evaded the scrutiny of the Metropolitan Police, was honouring the departure of one James Slack from his post as Downing Street Director of Communications - to become Sun deputy editor.

... but today you don't ...

And, in a routine display of double standards, the Sun kept schtum on lockdown-busting parties while, two months after Slack’s leaving bash, grassing up Matt Hancock for a clinch with Gina Coladangelo. There is no finer example in modern times of the power of the press resting not only on what it chooses to publish, but what it does not.

Sadly for Rupert Murdoch and his representative on earth, the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks, their menu of selectively casting dead cats while indulging in unprincipled client journalism did not prevent the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, for reasons best known to itself, from turning on Bozo.

... because THIS

That move may have been prompted by news that some well-known Tory back benchers, notably Andrew “HS2 ate my homework” Bridgen, have also turned on the PM and are openly soliciting his departure from Downing Street. Perhaps, whisper it quietly, the Sundays may bring yet more bad Bozo news. Leaks of Sue Gray’s report suggest that a further dead cat is being readied. Another dead cat means another likely revelation.

It won’t save Bozo. But he will not go of his own volition: nor will Carrie. Both of them will have to be dragged out of Downing Street kicking and screaming, unwilling to depart from the centre of power that Bozo has sought for so long. The Tories have to act.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 claims another 335 lives. Not that press or Tories care, mind.


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Thursday, 13 January 2022

Bozo’s Lame Excuse Unravels

George Wigg is a name now long forgotten: he was an MP and later peer, and more importantly a confidant and fixer for Harold Wilson. He became briefly notorious in the mid-1970s. Driving round Soho late one night, Wigg stopped his car; he got out and approached a young woman. Sadly for him, she turned out to be an undercover Police officer and Wigg was duly nicked. It was his excuse that was most memorable.


He mistakenly thought that she was a newspaper seller. In 70s Soho. Late at night. Some of his pals even backed him up. Private Eye magazine was having none of it, and put Wigg on their next front page, showing him getting out of a taxi late at night with the word balloon saying “Hang on cabbie - I’m desperate for a newspaper”.

The Wigg moment was replicated in its lameness yesterday by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson as he finally decided to summon some form of apology for the Downing Street parties that he had been assured were not really happening, but that he had just happened to attend, while the rest of the country was in lockdown.

Private Eye issue 391: a lame excuse to rival Bozo

At a time when individuals could meet only one other person outside their household, and when the cops were breaking up gatherings, no matter how small, in back gardens, Bozo and his staff had a cheese and wine gathering in the Downing Street garden. He excused that one by claiming “those people were at work talking about work”.

Only five days later, though, as the BBC has reported, “About 100 people were invited by email to ‘socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden’ on behalf of the prime minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds. Witnesses told the BBC the PM and his wife were among about 30 people who attended”. It was a bring your own bottle bash.


So what say Bozo about that one? “Boris Johnson has confirmed he attended the event, saying he was there for 25 minutes and ‘believed implicitly that this was a work event’”. HE WAS THERE. But he was sorry. Sort of. Sorry for how bad it looked. It got worse.

With hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside. I should have found some other way to thank them, and I should have recognised that - even if it could have been said technically to fall within the guidance - there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way”. Work event, eh? But here a problem entered.


If it was a work event, what was the then Carrie Symonds doing there? Drinking something containing gin? Then another problem entered: Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross declined to back Bozo, not least because the PM was unable to reassure Ross that there would not be any more of those inconvenient revelations to come.

On top of that, yet another problem has since entered: much of the excuse making has centred around the gathering being nothing more than staff from offices within Downing Street spilling out into a secure garden. But now it is claimed that Henry Newman and Josh Grimstone, neither of whom works in Downing Street, were there. They are known as FOCs (Friends of Carrie). And so the excuse continues to unravel.

But good of the cabinet to back Bozo and keep him in post while the Tories’ poll ratings, already grim, go down the pan. Bozo is finished; being in denial only makes it worse.


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Wednesday, 12 January 2022

BBC Manager Admits It’s Broken

Looking back on the genesis of what became the BBC series The Age Of Uncertainty, J K Galbraith mused “In the world of responsible television there are the BBC and some others. Its genius lies in the quality of the people it attracts and also in the feeling of everyone … that they have a deeply shared responsibility for the product”.

Tim Davie, current BBC DG

What has also been true of the BBC in the years since is that the Corporation has been subjected to more than occasional political interference: Greg Dyke was effectively forced from the Director General’s chair after a backlash from the Blair Government, and before him, Alasdair Milne had his resignation forced upon him at the behest of Margaret Thatcher. Now the Beeb is once again under pressure from the Government.

So there is an almost obsessive attention to impartiality, or what is deemed to be impartiality by current DG Tim Davie. Staff have had their use of social media severely constrained; the sensitivity of management to attacks by the Tories, and especially their hangers-on within the media class, is palpable. A once great organisation has become as yet another frightened rabbit before the headlights of its opponents’ juggernauts.


That this has led the Corporation astray was laid bare in an appearance before the House of Lords communication committee, as the Guardian has reported. “David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy … the man who enforces its editorial standards … said the broadcaster should ‘represent all points of view’”. That’s not what impartiality means.

But do go on. “Jordan said everyone should expect their views to be appropriately represented by the national broadcaster - even if they believe the Earth is flat … ‘Flat-earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Earth is round, but very occasionally it might be appropriate to interview a flat-earther. And if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more”. No. Just no. The earth isn’t flat.


Impartiality is not, repeat not, REPEAT NOT, “both sides-ing” every issue. That way, you end up with “Here’s an emeritus professor of epidemiology to make the case for Covid-19 restrictions, and to oppose him, here’s Allison Pearson (or Julia Hartley Dooda. Or Darren Grimes. Or a Magna Carta wacko)". Jordan’s remarks have not been well received.

Ian Dunt was unimpressed. “This is the BBC's director of editorial policy. It suggests a catastrophic breakdown in basic editorial judgement, grounded in a failure to recognise the notion of objective truth”. Writer Ian Betteridge put it yet more directly.


BBC EdPol (Editorial Policy) has never been more of a mess. The first value on the list for the BBC is ‘Trust is the foundation of the BBC. We’re independent, impartial and honest’. How is Jordan's statement in line with that? When a senior journalist sits in front of MPs and tells them that if more people believed in a flat earth, it would ‘address it more’, they have forgotten what journalism is for. The truth is not a popularity contest”.

He has called on Jordan to resign. Meanwhile, Davie has added “If we’re sensing there is genuine concern about an area or we’re getting more complaints in an area, that will help inform our decisions about where we want to focus our internal reviews”.

What about facts? Or is it really one big popularity contest now? This is not good. At all.


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Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Lockdown Busting And Client Journalism

Hardly had the dust settled on the latest revelation of lockdown rule busting by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his jolly good pals within Downing Street than the questions began: didn’t any of the lobby journalists know? Why did it take yet another leak for a year and a half old story to finally see the light of day?

Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)

On top of that, another thought enters: had Labour got across the win line in 2017, would there have been an equally monastic silence from our free and fearless press? Had it been Jeremy Corbyn at Number 10, would the questions have taken a year and a half to be asked? As if you need to know the answer to that one. He’d have been crucified.

Ah, Master Cole

So we already have a case of what looks remarkably like double standards, and that’s before LBC host James O’Brien mused “From Brexit to these despicable parties, the whole administration is built on bullshit, arrogance & shamelessness. What never ceases to amaze is the way his supporters embrace the absolute contempt in which he must hold them. Especially the client journalists”. Would a former editor care to comment?


David Yelland, who has edited papers like the Murdoch Sun, certainly would. “I can easily name ten, maybe as many as 20 UK political journalists who must have known or should have known about this Johnson party. Their editors would fire them. Except some of these mates of Boris are editors. It will all [end] in tears. Ours”. Whoever can he mean?


Well, yesterday evening, outgoing BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg put out this Tweet: “What's also very obvious is that some staffers thought it was a v bad idea at the time - a flavour of messages shared with us from when Reynold's email was sent - 'Um. Why is Martin encouraging a mass gathering in the garden?', another says, 'Is this for real?’” At which point the questions began: what did she know and when?


And it wasn’t just her: talking of the Murdoch Sun, that paper kept Partygate off its front page this morning. And its political editor, the pretend journalist that is the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, can’t claim it was someone else’s call - the front page lead was written by, er, Himself. But he was saying nothing about the illicit party.


Until he grudgingly told “PM sends the Paymaster General Michael Ellis to answer Labour's UQ in the Commons … Hospital pass”. The first intervention from the Sun’s political editor. It’s almost as if the story were being played down to minimise the damage to Bozo. Meanwhile, Krishnan Guru-Murthy observed Ms Kuenssberg’s Tweet and mused “Making it all the more astonishing that it took over 18 months to be leaked”.


It was Guru-Murthy who had been interviewing veteran hack Peter Oborne when the latter named Ms K (and her ITV opposite number Robert Peston) as those who were not interrogating their sources and merely “shovelling on” what they had been briefed. Which led the Tweeter known as My Sweet Landlord to pose yet another question.


Talking of client journalism, when exactly did Laura K get sight of these emails? Remember she was practically taking dictation from Dominic Cummings at the time. Did he not mention that he told Martin Reynolds this party was against the rules?

We are thus far seeing, I suspect, the mere tip of the iceberg. That’s not good enough.


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Partygate - The Polecat’s Revenge

Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not wont to look any further than the current crisis, the day’s news cycle. So it was that he appeared not to give too much thought to what might happen after he dispensed with the services of now former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, apparently after a significant falling out with his third wife Carrie. He could deal with that later. And now he must.

Two personalities clash: Polecat Dom ...

Because the Polecat’s fingers are all over his latest crisis: Cummings Tweeted four days ago “The Guardian photo does NOT show a party [the alleged ‘business meeting’ which just happened to feature cheese and wine] but there was a rule-breaking drinks on 20 May”. Three days after that, an email confirming the “rule-breaking drinks” is leaked. As Mrs Beckermann tells Charlie Croker in The Italian Job, It Wasn’t An Accident.

... and Bozo's wife Carrie ...

And, once again, it was ITV where the leak landed, as Paul Brand told. “Email obtained by [ITV News] proves over 100 staff were invited to drinks party in No 10 garden at height of lockdown to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’. We’re told PM and his wife attended, with staff invited to ‘bring your own booze!’” How nice for them all. And there was more.

... the shopping trolley symbol refers to Bozo

Email was sent by the PM's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds. 30-40 staff attended, eating picnic food and drinking in the garden. Less than an hour earlier, Oliver Dowden had told the public at the daily press conference to stick to meeting in pairs outdoors”. Dowden, as Paul Johnson recalled, had been quite specific in his advice.


‘You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay 2 metres apart’ - Oliver Dowden, No10 news conference, 20 May, 2020 … Two hours later …” Two hours later, there was a party. As the Tweeter known as My Sweet Landlord noted, “Just to clarify, there is no way that an invitation from a civil servant to lots of other civil servants to bring their own booze to the Downing Street garden can result in a business meeting. That's another loophole closed”. And it got worse.


Tamara Cohen of Sky News told “Former special adviser Claire Pearsall tells [Sky News] a private secretary is unlikely to have organised such a drinks unless ‘the instruction came from the top… the private secretary works on behalf of the PM in this case’”.


Brand has this morning added “Health Minister Edward Argar has the unenviable job of defending No 10 this morning over the latest party. He says he can completely understand why people are ‘angry, upset and hurt by these allegations’ but we have to wait for Sue Gray’s internal investigation”. Why? As Argar was asked by Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid this morning, why does Bozo need to ask someone else if he was there?


It is clear from the Polecat’s Twitter feed that he dislikes Carrie Johnson. It is more than likely that this opinion has been reinforced by her part in his departure from Downing Street. He also knows that Bozo stood before the Commons last month and said “if those rules were broken, there will be disciplinary action for all those involved”. Since then, there just happen to have been two leaks of him being involved in breaking those rules himself.


The good news is that light is now being shone on the predictably cavalier attitude of this rotten, corrupt and unprincipled Government. The bad news is that we have had to wait a year and a half for it to shine. And only then because two people don’t like one another.


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