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Thursday 31 March 2022

Tories Shoot Their Own Culture War Fox

It has become ever clearer in the past days and weeks not only that the Tories will go in to the next General Election campaign led by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, but that they are so desperate that their campaign will consist even more than usual of smearing the opposition in order to deflect from their own shortcomings.

Jamie Wallis MP

So we are unlikely to be regaled by tales of how wonderful Brexit has been - because it hasn’t - and there will be little talk of the renewed prosperity Bozo and his coterie of ineptitude have bestowed upon us - because, for 99% of the population, there hasn’t been any. Instead, team Tory is retreating to its culture war bunker.

And that was intended to mean smearing trans people. For those out there on the right, there always has to be an other to demonise, and here the media class, to their shame, has uncritically taken the Tory talking points and run with them. Anyone from Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens is now routinely confronted with the same question: can a woman have a penis? Can you define a woman? What’s all this gender neutral toilets business?

Trans people are linked to sexual assaults; thus those on the right can claim they’re only wanting to keep women safe. Trans people are the new demons; Lucy Meadows has been conveniently forgotten, especially by our free and fearless press. The Trans Media Watch strapline “Accuracy … Dignity … Respect” remains ignored.

So it was that Bozo stood before a gathering of his MPs at the Park Plaza hotel earlier this week and declared “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth”. Laugh? I thought I’d never start. But then, into this world of easy Labour bashing, came Jamie Wallis - a Tory MP.

Wallis, who represents Bridgend, put out a statement yesterday where he told “I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be. I’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and I’ve felt this way since I was a very young child. I had no intention of ever sharing this with you. I always imagined I would leave politics well before I ever said this out loud”.

Cue laying of burning rubber as Bozo executed a 180 degree U-Turn in no style at all: “Sharing this very intimate story would have taken an immense amount of courage. Thank you [Jamie Wallis MP] for your bravery, which will undoubtedly support others. The Conservative Party I lead will always give you, and everyone else, the love and support you need to be yourself”. Which puts his talking points in a very difficult position.

Trans bashing while your party includes the first openly trans MP is not the cleverest of looks. It won’t deflect from Bozo’s lying, especially on Partygate and Russian influence. It won’t make all those families of Covid victims, who stood stoically outside the Park Plaza hotel as Tory MPs averted their gaze from yet another inconvenient manifestation of reality, vanish into the night. It won’t, whisper it quietly, last for many more news cycles.

So there will have to be more cheap and nasty culture war smears to dream up, more ministers shouting the odds about “Woke”, when they don’t even know what the word means, more pretending that poverty either doesn’t really exist, or that the EU done it.

But it might alert broadcasters to the next Tory con. They really have shot their own fox.

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Tuesday 29 March 2022

Laura K, The Acceptable Candidate

And so the long, indeed overlong, process of appointing a successor to the now former host of The Andy Marr Show™, the BBC’s flagship weekend politics and current affairs offering, came to an end yesterday with the widely-predicted result. Marr’s permanent replacement is to be Laura Kuenssberg, the Corporation’s outgoing political editor.

Why this was predictable is not difficult to figure out: Marr himself had been BBC political editor before he succeeded David Frost with the show initially called Sunday AM. What was also predictable was the outpouring of occasionally sincere and consistently gushing congratulations from others in the media class, accompanied by silent approval from those who rabbit-in-headlights Director General Tim Davie fears the most.

What might the DG fear? The Murdoch Sun, for a start, which has nodded through the news with comments such asThe corporation's outgoing Political Editor will grill ministers from the hot seat formerly occupied by Andrew Marr”. And the Mail, where those often devastating headlines have been replaced with the anodyne “Laura Kuenssberg says its a 'genuine honour' as she's unveiled as new £340,000-a-year host of BBC's Sunday morning politics show”.Even the Express, the Daily Brexit, was not unhappy.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg will put her years of experience on the BBC to use on BBC One's Sunday Morning show from September”. The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press has no problem with the appointment. And, just to underscore the right-wing approval of Ms Kuenssberg, nor do the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, aka The Provisional Wing Of CCHQ™.

Kuenssberg’s Sunday Morning Gig … Laura Kuenssberg has confirmed she’ll be taking over the prized Sunday Morning politics show as she enters her final week as the BBC’s political editor” tells The Great Guido. Not a word of dissent, no snide comments, no sign of the smears doled out to Jess Brammar and Emily Maitlis. And there was more.

Reporting on the appointment for the i Paper, Paul Waugh confirmed that the righteous Tory right also approved. “[Steve Baker] on why [Laura Kuenssberg] will be a formidable successor to Andrew Marr: she has looked ‘deep into the hearts and minds and souls of MPs in extended crisis’”. Baker has clearly just finished a binge watch of Smiley’s People.

No, the concern over Ms Kuenssberg’s appointment is not over her having been carpeted over misrepresenting Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on shoot to kill, her participation in a junior shadow minister resigning live on the Daily Politics, which benefited the Tories and wrong-footed Labour, her disclosure of postal ballot returns, her Leeds General Infirmary howler, or her perceived closeness to alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

The concern, for an increasing number of onlookers, is that the right-leaning press, and the Tories, are all too clearly intensely relaxed about the appointment. The people who are preparing to line up behind Bozo over Partygate and tell the electorate that it’s no big deal that we have a Prime Minister who stands before the House of Commons and routinely lies through his teeth, just so he can get through the day’s news cycle.

This is an appointment of which the Tories and their establishment pals approve. I hope Ms Kuenssberg disabuses them of their relaxation. But remain sceptical of that outcome.

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Monday 28 March 2022

Dooda Covid Pile-On BACKFIRES

As if Murdoch property and noise floor occupant TalkRADIO needed to prove just how in tune with the public mood it wasn’t, breakfast show host Julia Hartley Brewer - who, apparently, will remain in place after the transition of the station to TalkTV next month - has opened mouth and inserted boot in no style at all. As so often, it is the Covid-19 pandemic that she has taken as the subject for her thankfully brief sermon.

Ms Hartley Dooda saw that James Smith of York University, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, had committed the heinous crime of visiting a supermarket while wearing a face covering. Worse for her, it was not just your average face covering. He then commented “Shopping this morning. Most customers and employees were maskless”. Ms Hartley Dooda was deeply affronted. “Imagine being the mother of this”. Hypocrisy, much?

After all, Ms Hartley Dooda is the great libertarian - when it comes to anything that affects Herself Personally Now. Others proceeded to remind her of this highly selective application of high principles. “Ahhh, I get it now. You’re vehemently arguing for the freedom of the individual, so long as the individual chooses the options that you think are right”.

There was more. “Still wearing a mask? You care about others, even strangers. Refuse to wear a mask? You care only about yourself. It's that simple”. The Dooda family history also featured. “Your dad would be ashamed of this tweet. He was a principled man, a man who ran for parliament as a Labour candidate. Your mum, well she was a GP, an NHS employee. I have literally no doubt she'd be thoroughly ashamed of this too”.

The adverse comment kept on coming. “Imagine being bothered about someone’s personal decision to wear a mask” … “Has Lawrence fox hacked your account?” … “I wear one similar, they are surprisingly comfortable, my glasses don’t steam up, don’t hurt my ears and are cheaper in the long run” … “If you have any kind of health condition I imagine that you feel much safer with a son like this and very proud of him. I think it is cruel to sacrifice vulnerable people because you don't want to smudge your lipstick, don't you?

OUCH! “This man is a Doctor, a sensible one at that, wanting to protect himself and others. He SAVES LIVES for a living. Hell, I'd be so proud and honoured to be his Mother” … “Looks way over the top but hey I don’t know him or his issues so what’s it to do with me, and certainly I wouldn’t be bullying and trolling him on a social media platform”.

Could it get any worse? As if you need to ask. “Oh what a libertarian hero you are. Freedom of choice, but only if it’s the same choice as mine” … “Very possible he cares about the vulnerable. His mum might indeed be just that. He himself might be. Given the fact govt and yourself don’t give a sh*t about rising cases we all have to do what we can to stay covid free”. Not going to be much of a warm-up act for Piers Morgan, is she?

And the points stand: freedom of choice extends to those with whom you disagree, taking Covid seriously when our Government has pretended it’s all over means taking your own precautions, and being selfish and inconsiderate is not a merit badge. This might not be allowed to enter the world of Ms Hartley Dooda, but these are the kinds of considerations that millions of real people are having to make every single day.

Among all the other decisions. Like taking no notice of the clown car that is TalkRADIO.

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Sunday 27 March 2022

Chris Packham - A Word In Your Ear

Defamation lawsuits are expensive. For most people, they are too expensive, not just to defend against, but to initiate. A great deal of defamatory material therefore goes uncontested. But even for those who can afford to go to law, there is a further potential problem: the danger that those sued may not have the means to pay up, or that their assets prove difficult to locate. Or, whisper it quietly, they prove difficult to locate, too.

Chris Packham

This occasional hazard came to mind when considering the action launched recently by naturalist and presenter Chris Packham, over a series of allegations published by an online “magazine”. Because the online “magazine” is called Country Squire, and its editor is none other than Dominic Wightman, a name maybe familiar to Zelo Street regulars.

Packham’s lawsuit is already at the stage of being not only serious, but seriously expensive: earlier this month at a “meanings hearing”, the Judge handed down his ruling on “nine articles published in ‘Country Squire Magazine,’ two videos published on YouTube and eight tweets containing text and hyperlinks to the articles or videos”.

As Inforrm’s Blog notes, “Overall, the meaning ascribed to each of the publications is a variation on the accusation that the claimant dishonestly raised funds from the public by stating that tigers had been rescued from a circus where they had been mistreated, whereas in fact, the claimant knew that the tigers had been well-treated and were donated to the circus … Each of the meanings were found to be defamatory”.

So “the matter will proceed to trial”. At this point, Packham may have been pleased with the result. But I have news for him: Dominic Wightman is not just the publisher of an online “magazine”. He is a notorious con man, discharged bankrupt, fantasist, and bad payer who has left a string of unpaid debts in his wake. His marks have included Tory MPs (note use of the plural), as well as supposedly reputable journalists.

Wightman conned technophobe then-MP Patrick Mercer. Mercer is no longer an MP. He is also believed to be behind “The Traitors’ Chart”, which appeared in Country Squire, and then in modified form became the basis of “Hijacked Labour”, published very briefly by the Murdoch Sun, before being pulled, apparently after the paper’s lawyers intervened. More predictably, Country Squire later conned pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins.

Country Squire claimed in its defence that it had merely received a “press release” about the “Traitors’ Chart”. After that “meanings hearing”, Wightman was characteristically full of himself: “happy to robustly defend the truth of our articles and tweets … long-term journalistic investigation … standing on a mountain of facts”. Of course he is.

But the thread that runs through Wightman’s backstory - alongside his abuse and harassment of anyone who has him rumbled - is the fantasist bluster, the pretence of authority, and what is consistently reported as a trail of unpaid debts. This should concern Chris Packham and his lawyers. It should also concern whoever has been instructed to act for Wightman, his two co-defendants, and whoever is acting for them.

Meanwhile, Wightman has begun a crowdfunder called the “Reptile Fund”. He probably thinks this title makes him a dead clever intelligence and security expert. As opposed to someone who once saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That’s how close he gets to reality.

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Saturday 26 March 2022

Sophie Corcoran - The New Katie Hopkins

Those who thought that the fading from view of pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins - and, indeed, others out there on the right - would bring a little less bigotry and xenophobia, better understanding of climate change and the Covid pandemic, and a little more caring for those less fortunate than ourselves, have seen that thought disproved comprehensively with the arrival on the scene of one Sophie Corcoran. Who she?

What a happy soul

Ms Corcoran is at Durham University. She is also given a platform by Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), and on occasion Murdoch property and noise floor occupant TalkRADIO. She is, shall we say, opinionated. She also gives the impression of being ignorant, intolerant, and dishonest. Let’s start with that pandemic.

Chris Whitty ‘school closures likely to have caused long term damage to children’ … No F***ing s**t … We weren’t at risk. You knew it would cause irreparable harm - but you called the people who told you covid deniers and conspiracy theorists”. Flat-out lie there. As to those who get hit by The Rona, “These people have been radicalised”. Ri-i-ight.

There was more in the same vein. “You can’t lock and [sic] entire economy down for years and not expect everyone to be poorer”. The economy wasn’t locked down for years. But remember, “I don’t care if there’s a million or even a billion cases of covid. We have done everything we can. Some people are even on their 4th vaccine. We just need to get on with it”. She doesn’t care. Thus the worthy successor to the now absent Ms Hopkins.

How about a different angle on intolerance? “Labour voted against stopping illegal channel crossings. No surprise there, they must love a bit of people trafficking”. What’s illegal? But, again, there’s more. “The MAJORITY of the British population want the govt to crack down on illegal immigration”. No citation. And seeking asylum is not illegal. Do go on.

Nearly 4,000 migrants have crossed the channel this year. Another 4,000 people that will get everything for free whilst Brits battle the cost of living crisis”. No they won’t. Then we move on to Brexit. “Why are all the FBPEs out of the closet today please?” Abuse. Intolerance. “The remainers get more and more desperate by the day, don’t they?” They do? “There is not a single day where I regret Brexit”. Your decision, was it?

How about climate change? “The green agenda is quite literally pushing the majority of us towards absolute poverty. Open your eyes people … There is no point to green taxes. They don’t stop climate change. They won’t stop Global warming, They don’t stop people from using energy - people need it - it’s a necessity. They achieve literally naff all. All they do is make people poorer - for no reason”. She doesn’t understand how taxation works.

But she must have some empathy towards the plight of Ukraine and its people. Mustn’t she? Er, not as such. “The UK govt to provide another £25 million to Ukraine and 6000 missiles - in addition to what’s already been sent. All whilst Brits are facing poverty … If the govt were able to afford to give £400 million pound in humanitarian aid - and that’s without the weaponry - to Ukraine … Surely they can cut fuel duty by more than 5p?

Economics, and indeed maths, not her strong point. But she’s opinionated, willing to sound off, and fulfils the right-wing media’s need to show that there are real young people out there who think like them. Another reason to see what’s on GB News … and not tune in.

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Friday 25 March 2022

Daily Mail Becomes Pravda

Our free and fearless press, we are routinely assured, is of independent mind and spirit, and at the opposite pole from all those propaganda sheets so beloved of authoritarian régimes in countries that are less free than the UK. But the claim has, for some time, worn thin with those observing the machinations at the Northcliffe House bunker, where the Daily Mail has frequently resorted to playing the Tory mouthpiece.

Hence castigating judges as “ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE”, a denunciation straight out of the Soviet-era playbook. But even those labouring in the service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his Sidney Falco-like editor Ted Verity could tell the difference between the Mail and Pravda. Well, until this morning, they could.

Because today the Daily Mail has gone full Politburo, telling readers “KREMLIN: BORIS IS OUR No1 ENEMY”. Vlad the Invader will be happy. There was more. “THE Kremlin branded Boris Johnson public enemy number one last night as the Prime Minister said Ukraine can ‘certainly’ win the war”. You are not as stupid as you look, English!

Do go on. “The extraordinary Russian statement [surely ‘standard issue propaganda’? - Ed] came after Mr Johnson pushed Nato leaders to step up military and economic support for Ukraine - and crack down on Vladimir Putin’s vast gold reserves”. Vlad’s spokesman was quoted word for word. “As for Mr Johnson, we see him as the most active participant in the race to be anti-Russian … it will lead to a foreign policy dead-end”.

I warned you English, we know how to deal with counter-revolution! But just as this servile dictation-taking was being gleefully pored over by special directorates of Moscow Centre, there was a realisation by anti-party elements within the Dacre dacha that copying and pasting Kremlin propaganda did not show the Mail in such a good light.

Sadly, the revisionist version of history isn’t too clever either, with the Mail telling readersBoris Johnson rejected Kremlin claims that he is 'anti-Russian' today - and joked that even his name is popular there. The Prime Minister used a Nato press conference to dismiss personal Moscow attacks linked to growing sanctions on its economy and increasing military aid for Ukraine”. So he’s not “anti-Russian”. But hang on a minute.

Isn’t he supposed to be “anti-Russian” right now? Oh hang on, here’s the “clarification”: “speaking this afternoon in Brussels, Mr Johnson said he was no anti-Russian but 'deeply hostile' towards leader Vladimir Putin … He became serious as he added: 'But I think what we all agree is that what Vladimir Putin is doing, the way he's leading Russia at the moment, is utterly catastrophic, that his invasion of Ukraine is inhuman and barbaric”.

Bozo comes to the Mail’s rescue. And there was more from the PM. “And the conduct of that invasion is now moving into the type of behaviour that, as I said before, we haven't seen in the continent of Europe for 80 years [77 years, more like], and it's horrific … So you can be sympathetic towards ordinary Russians, who are being so badly led, but you can be deeply hostile to the decisions of Vladimir Putin”.

That still doesn’t excuse the Mail from turning into Pravda this morning. Another example of why Paul Dacre should have retired years ago. Along with his double, er, counting.

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Thursday 24 March 2022

Dan Wootton Joins The Megs Obsessives

Former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan might have been thought to have the saddest obsession with the Duchess of Sussex, but his undisputed world title is now up for challenge. And that challenger is the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton, now a host at Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) and a columnist for the Daily Mail, where he has just put one over on Morgan in no style at all.

At this point, the thought might have entered that it would be difficult to go after Megs right now, given she and Haz have not been saying much of late, but Desperate Dan has found a way round that. He’s seen that the Cambridges have had a less than totally enthusiastic welcome from the citizens of Jamaica, added something that the Sussexes said some time ago, and declared that They Done It. Maybe a Tardis is involved somewhere.

The creative - and, indeed, wrong-headed - nature of Wootton’s argument is summed up by the headline. "Shame on Meghan Markle as her propagandists use the fantasy that the Royal Family is racist to derail Wills and Kate’s Jamaican tour and destroy the Commonwealth”. She didn’t say the Royal Family was racist, but hey ho. Do go on.

Meghan Markle’s pack of lies to her nodding BFF Oprah Winfrey suggesting the monarchy is a racist institution [she didn’t] and casting doubt on its senior members is now providing a significant boost to the fast-moving republican cause in Jamaica at the worst possible moment. For all their talk of believing in and loving the Commonwealth pre-Megxit [strawman], Harry and Meghan have become the pin-ups for its destruction [no citation]”.

Sadly, there is more. Rather a lot more. “This was always the concern of senior courtiers when Meghan’s claim to Oprah about a so-called unnamed ‘royal racist’ who asked about her unborn baby’s skin colour went unchallenged [no citation, nor will there be] … ‘This was the nightmare scenario after Meghan’s Oprah lies - now it’s coming true,’ says a concerned royal insider”. Insider? Wootton looking in the mirror, more likely.

Then comes the inevitable appeal to an authority Wootton arguably does not possess. “As the journalist who broke the most stories about former Suits star Meghan’s tumultuous time in the Royal Family, including the Sussexes decision to Megxit, it’s utter hogwash to suggest her race played any role in the ensuing rows”. White man with overactive North And South says someone who is not white is a liar, and They Done It. Trust him. Or not.

Meghan wasn’t pushed out of the Royal Family because of ethnicity and to even countenance such a fantasy is irresponsible”. Don’t talk about race! How dare anyone talk about race! The gobby white man says so! Could it get worse? Hypocrisy, maybe?

You got it. “Meghan soon realised a life of service wasn’t for her. She had zero interest in supporting the Royal Family and zero interest in the Commonwealth, but cared a whole lot about her bank balance and celebrity status”. Caring about one’s bank balance and Sleb status? Why was it Dan Woootton went to GB News? Search me, eh?

But good to see the admission that Desperate Dan is up there with the host of upcoming multinational Opinutainment property The All-New Percy Moron Show. And obsession.

Meanwhile, Megs might manage a “Dan who?” His name’s Dan, he’s a desperate man.

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Wednesday 23 March 2022

Oh Tommy Tommy - A Third Contempt

Time and tide wait for no man, and nor does the legal process, as was discovered yesterday by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. Lennon was due to appear at the High Court to be “examined” on the subject of his finances, after he lost a libel action brought against him by Jamal Hijazi, a Syrian refugee about whom Lennon had made a series of highly imaginative - and defamatory - claims.

Tommy Robinson is due to appear at the High Court to be questioned about his finances after he lost a libel case brought against him by a Syrian teenager” told PA Media. James Doleman noted soon afterwards that there was a problem. “Court rises as the judge, Master Dagnall enters the court. Mr Yaxley-Lennon is not present”. There was more.

Judge says it appears that Mr. Lennon was aware of today's hearing … Counsel says the aim of today's hearing was for him to be examined, under oath, about his financial circumstances. Owing £100k in libel damages plus costs he has declared himself bankrupt … The barrister continues, ‘it is clear he has chosen not to attend’”.

But Lennon had made an application to the court. “Court now discussing a legal application made by Mr. Lennon, which he had asked to be heard today … Judge says he will dismiss this application as there is nobody here to present it”. And then … “Judge says he will now ‘consider the consequences’ of Mr. Lennon's non-attendance”.

The judge notes that there was a ‘penal order’ issued that required Mr Lennon to attend today, and informing him if he did not he could face a fine or imprisonment … dismisses Mr Lennon's motion to end the case because of his bankruptcy … says he will refer Mr Lennon to a High Court judge for possible contempt of court proceedings … he will order costs against Mr. Lennon for today's hearing as he had ‘chosen not to attend’”.

Worse, as Lennon has now been discharged from bankruptcy, he will be liable for those costs. The Judge could not issue a warrant, which is partly why he referred the matter to a High Court Judge - who can issue a warrant for Lennon’s arrest. The High Court Judge will most likely consider the matter next week, after which Lennon may get nicked.

Worse still is that Lennon’s apparent attempt to put his assets beyond the reach of the courts may prove to be a campaign that develops not necessarily to his advantage. Hope Not Hate may not always turn up to the anti-extremism party, but they have at least focused on Lennon’s bankruptcy claims, and last month submitted their findings.

A few moments ago we handed over a 200-page dossier to the Insolvency Practitioner investigating Stephen Lennon’s (aka Tommy Robinson) bankruptcy. In it, we set out the evidence that we believe shows his claim of bankruptcy is a fraud, designed simply to avoid paying Jamal Hijazi the damages and legal fees that were awarded against him last year … In a video posted online in March 2020, Lennon crowed ‘They’re not getting paid ok. I don’t own an asset. I’m asset … I’m a straw man’”. Or maybe not.

HnH have helpfully added “Unfortunately for Lennon, in his own book, he explained that he placed assets in his wife’s name. Among these assets in his wife’s name were six of the seven houses he owned at the time and the Tanning salon that was again in his wife’s name but he made clear in his book that he ran”. Now he faces jail, too. Sad, really.

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