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Thursday 30 June 2022

Bozo And Kangaroo Client Journalism

Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson faces an inquiry into his conduct by the House of Commons Privileges Committee. That inquiry begins today, and to confirm that Bozo is scared shitless that it is going to conclude that he knowingly misled Parliament - otherwise known as lying - a smear story about the Committee has surfaced this morning.

The Guardian has helpfully given some of the background: “Yesterday the Commons privileges committee held its first meeting to plan its inquiry into claims that Johnson lied to MPs and - in what could be a highly significant move - it decided to effectively invite No 10 staff to give evidence anonymously”. Why would that be significant? Ah well. There is more.

If, as reports suggest, some junior Downing Street officials are aggrieved about the way they were treated during Partygate, and if they can provide evidence that Johnson knew much more about parties taking place or rules being broken than he told the Commons, then this whistleblower provision could prove fatal to the prime minister”. Fatal enough to pull the smear.

And so it came to pass that the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph produced a superbly crafted pile of steaming bullpucky headlined “No 10 fears PM faces ‘kangaroo court’”. The lead name on the by-line, to no surprise at all, is Christopher “No” Hope, and Lee Donaghy correctly identified the nature of the article: “Client journalism. Trashing good people doing important work”. Adam Bienkov of Byline Times had another reminder.

Four out of the seven members of the Privileges Committee are Conservative MPs”. Is Bozo having his own back benchers leaned on? Is he that scared? Or is someone else within Downing Street briefing Hope, or causing him to be briefed? It got worse as Chris Bryant, who has resigned his chairmanship of the Committee to avoid any accusation of bias, chipped in.

This is nonsense and a sign they’re scared of being caught out. The committee members are thorough, fair and meticulous. They’re advised by the former head of the tribunal service. But this is what Johnson always does, throw over the rules or the body that adjudicates on them”, later adding “It is at least arguable that calling the Committee of Privileges a ‘kangaroo court’ is itself a contempt of parliament”. Which is most revealing.

That suggests not only that Hope and his co-writer were merely, in the words of Peter Oborne,”just shovelling it on”, failing to interrogate their source or bothering to do the most basic of research, but also that whoever briefed the Tel did not know their way around the concept of Contempt of Parliament. Which, in turn, feeds back into the idea that the briefing may not have come from one of Bozo’s press people. It also smacks of bad faith.

For instance, the Tel’s report talks of “hearsay evidence”, but the Committee will not be accepting hearsay evidence. What they will accept, though, providing the evidence giver can be identified to them, is anonymised evidence. So no-one outside the Committee will know who give the evidence and - by complete coincidence, you understand - the evidence giver cannot be leant on, or smeared, by Bozo and his enforcers.. So who’s the briefer?

OK, there seem to have been at least one MP prepared to be quoted, but then, around 200 of them backed Bozo in the recent confidence vote. Were I a betting man, I would have a few quid on Carrie Johnson being not unadjacent to the briefing given to Hope as an “exclusive” - as in it being such a steaming pile of bovine by-product that no-one else would run it.

Given that this inquiry finding that Bozo did knowingly mislead the Commons - in other words, lying and knowing he lied - would probably precipitate his removal from Downing Street, even if it does mean dragging the SOB out kicking and screaming, she has motive enough to be behind it.

Who's calling the Tel?

So that’s where my Occam’s Razor is pointing right now. This is an especially nasty anonymous smear of a Committee which has a Tory majority, with, apparently, the sole objective of warning them off saying Bozo Done It. It also says much about the level to which the Tel has sunk that its hacks are prepared to even listen to whoever briefed the smear.

It could, of course, be someone else behind the briefing. Bozo himself, or his other friend, for instance. But one thing is certain: it won’t work.

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Wednesday 29 June 2022

Steve Bray Meets The New Fascism

Those out there on the right sneered dismissively at anyone getting caught up in Met Police “kettling” as a result of protests: the Rotten Lefties™ deserved all they got, the cops were only doing their job. Then the Countryside Alliance protested, the Met drew blood, and all was so different when the boot was firmly on the other foot. It is a reminder few on the right have heeded since.

Steve Bray

They were not heeding it yesterday as the Met’s finest celebrated the new powers given them by Tory anti-protest legislation by swarming and then nicking protester Steve Bray, confiscating his amplifier and telling him that he would be prosecuted. Twenty cops available to pick on a protester, none to catch Downing Street lawbreaking at the height of the Covid pandemic. And some still wonder why the Met has been placed in special measures.

Charlotte Lynch of LBC noted “On the day that ‘noisy’ protest becomes unlawful under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, at least 20 police officers have just surrounded anti-Brexit protestor Steve Bray outside the Houses of Parliament and seized his loud speaker”. Emma Kennedy was not alone in passing severely adverse comment on the Police action.

20 police officers because this govt wants one man to shut up. This doesn’t happen in healthy democracies”. And members of that Government could not wait to smear Bray, not least the mildly scary Andrea Leadsom, who sniffed “Steve Bray has spent six years screaming abuse through a loudhailer at me and many others as often as he saw us for the ‘crime’ of trying to fulfil the democratic decision of the UK to leave the EU. This action by the police to stop his violent protest is very welcome”. Free speech is now violence!

Mike Fabricant, representing the unfortunate voters of Lichfield, as well as his Irish, applauded the confiscation. “What a joyous day for all who live and work around Westminster!” That’s the same Mike Fabricant who last year warned “Cancel Culture is is becoming invasive and dangerous to free speech”. So he’s just another stinking Tory hypocrite and authoritarian, then.

But the Police action did not go unnoticed, and soon Jolyon Maugham was able to report “We are getting a lot of questions about [Steve Bray]: we have offered our help. And our new law firm, Good Law Practice, is actively recruiting a solicitor to work on right to protest cases”. Bray’s fighting fund has been swelled overnight: the Police action has already backfired badly.

That has not stopped the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - slow handclap for the great libertarian, folks - from cheering on the Police action, thus confirming that this so-called outsider is just another establishment crawler, fully invested in perpetuating alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in power, along with the tendency to authoritarian, even fascist, jackbooting of protesters.

Even the Free Speech Union, domain of the loathsome Toby Young - who goes back a long way with Staines and his gofers - has noted its disapproval after seeing Bray’s right to protest curtailed. Libertarians choosing to back Bozo are no longer libertarians. They are enablers of fascism.

This is a further slide down the slippery slope towards the F-Word. Some journalists know this is wrong: Liam Thorp of the Liverpool Echo observed “Just today we’ve had a Tory MP suggest women should not be able to make decisions about their own bodies, we’ve had a protestor the government doesn’t like apprehended by police and we’ve been told that only the Prime Minister can approve an investigation into his own conduct”.

And Bray has not been deterred by yesterday’s events: “Bella Ciao on the amp at Parliament …. We are not going away and we are never giving in to fascism. #UpYoursPriti”. Also, he is determined to force the Met to prove their case in court, which should make for interesting viewing.

Behold the bringer of the new fascism

But the conclusion is an ominous one: Bozo and his pals have no problem with sliding - not accidentally - closer to outright fascism. The increasingly inept Metropolitan Police have no problem being Bozo’s enforcers. The press boot boys, even those who consider themselves libertarians, have no problem with it either. We were warned; now it is coming ever closer.

Democracy itself may be in the firing line next. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Monday 27 June 2022

Strikes - Labour Sells The Pass

The Labour Party was formed to support working people: the clue is in the name. It has consistently stood alongside workers in their struggle to gain better pay, shorter hours, paid holidays, maternity leave, equal pay for men and women, and improved working conditions. Its members, MPs and indeed leaders have shown solidarity with those taking industrial action

Oh hang on, I've just flushed my credibility down the pan

Even Shirley Williams - who was one of the founders of the breakaway SDP in the early 1980s - could be seen on the picket lines during the infamous Grunwick dispute. So when the RMT took strike action over pay recently, what would Labour MPs have been expected to do? What would a sensible party leadership have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

Sadly, the current Labour leadership, like a rabbit caught in the glare of right-wing press headlights, and paying more heed to centrist members of the Westminster media bubble than actual working people, does not concern itself with old-fashioned fuddy-duddy nonsense like anything intellectually challenging. Not while it is trying pointlessly to appeal to the tabloid press.

So it was that Keir Starmer and his team issued a diktat telling shadow ministers and the rest of the payroll vote (like PPSs) that standing on an RMT picket line was Streng Verboten. Perhaps someone advising the Labour leader thinks this will stop the Murdoch and Rothermere press shitting on them come the next General Election campaign. Wrong. It won’t.

Worse, some of that shadow payroll vote went and showed solidarity with the strikers anyway. So now they face a jolly severe talking to from the whips (allegedly). And the Murdoch and Rothermere press happily shitting all over them while they howl “LABOUR SPLIT” at their readers. Worse still, voter enthusiasm for Labour will fall as disappointment sets in.

As that went so well, or not, perhaps the Labour high command would stop and think. Not as such: when shadow foreign secretary David Lammy appeared before the inquisition of host Sophie Raworth on BBC Sunday Morning, matters went from bad to worse as he declined to show support for workers at London’s Heathrow Airport about to take strike action.

So the groans of disappointment grew louder, while none of the right-wing press will be giving Lammy, his party leader, or anyone else anywhere near Labour any credit this side of hell freezing over. Ah, the centrists will respond, but Labour has to be electable. No shit, Sherlock: if the voters won’t turn out because you shat on them, Labour still won’t be electable.

On top of that, it was not long before both Starmer and Lammy discovered that The Internet Never Forgets applies to them too: Tweets showing both men on the picket line, showing solidarity with striking workers in the Further Education sector. And just to put the lid on it, there was the Labour leader, from February 2020, telling “From the Wapping picket line to fighting the mine closures and supporting families affected by the P&O dispute, I’ve always been a proud trade unionist”. Which the press will also have seen.

Meanwhile, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has reminded us that her party supports striking rail workers, adding “Just putting this here for anyone feeling in need of a new political home following the Lammy interview on #SundayMorning”. Lammy had scored a spectacular own goal.

And for what? A chorus of approval from the Westminster media bubble? Brownie points from the Guardian and Staggers? A few columns in the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, and the Murdoch Sun? Two papers who will shit all over Labour come the next General Election, no matter how anti-strike and anti-solidarity the party becomes?

You don’t become the next Government merely by telling the country that you’re not bent like the other lot. Because they can figure that out themselves. You do become the next Government by standing for something. Like standing for decent pay and conditions for ordinary working people, rather than meekly accepting the grotesque spectacle of the poor getting poorer while the 1% trouser ever larger pay and bonus packages.

Labour won by-elections like Wakefield (and, let us not forget, retained Batley and Spen) by throwing the kitchen sink at them. That is not possible come a General Election, when all those activists who took all the doorstep abuse in 2019 will be needed to help get the message across and the vote out. Dumping on them while appeasing the right-wing press will not work.

Stop selling out working people. You’re supposed to be the Labour Party.

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Sunday 26 June 2022

Bozo’s Hitler Admission

He’d get the hint from the confidence vote, he’d realise that things had to change, he’d get out of the way if the voters turned against the Tories, he wasn’t that bad really. Thus the Tory party rationalised their inertia and the continuing presence of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in Downing Street. But then came Tiverton and Honiton.

We see you, malignant narcissist

If a 24,000 Tory majority could be overturned, no-one was safe. Minds became a little bit more focused. That focus was only sharpened when Bozo told anyone who would listen that he wouldn’t change. Former Tory MP Anna Soubry came to the same conclusion as Zelo Street: Bozo would not resign. He would have to be dragged out of Downing Street kicking and screaming.

And now has come the fullest demonstration of Bozo’s delusion: his party is presiding over a worsening economy, the act of national self-harm that is Brexit is being rumbled by those who were conned into backing it, there is industrial unrest with more on the way, the cost of living crisis is worsening, and the policy of blaming it all on someone else has run out of road.

The Bozo response to that? As the BBC has reported, “Boris Johnson has said he is ‘actively thinking’ about a third term, amid criticism of his leadership”. Which means what, exactly? “Speaking to reporters in Kigali, Rwanda, where he has been at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, the prime minister was asked to elaborate on his comment, replying that he was thinking ‘about a third term - mid 2030s’”.

Which brings back memories of Mrs T announcing “Yes, I hope to go on. And on”, except that was after a third General Election victory. Bozo is talking after two shockingly bad by-election results. Which causes the thought to enter that he is either beyond delusional, willing to do a little more of that rule-bending to perpetuate himself in power, or rather more of both.

Thus the comparison with other r├ęgimes that have demonised minorities, blamed all their country’s ills on foreigners, assured the population that they are going to bring back past glories, constantly lie to the public, rely on compliant media organisations to massage their image, ruthlessly shit on opponents, while changing the law to ban inconveniences like protests.

Yes, Germany was still a democracy when the Nazis came to power. It still had effective parties of opposition. Trades unions were legal and free to organise. The judiciary was independent of the executive. And, bit by bit, the rules were changed to perpetuate the Nazis and their leader in power.

You'll have to speak up, I'm a bit Mutt And Jeff

Democracy is a fragile thing: it requires a careful and steady hand. This is well understood in mainland Europe: apart from Germany and those countries that were occupied and fought over, the dead hand of the former Soviet Union is still remembered in states out to the east. In the south, older citizens in Spain, Portugal and Greece can recall a time of totalitarian dictatorships.

But aloof and arrogant England - because, as ever, it is English exceptionalism that is muddying the United Kingdom pool - believes that, as we didn’t get occupied in World War 2, it couldn’t happen here. We are told that our democracy has endured for centuries, although the reality is that unqualified universal suffrage for all men and women at the same age has only been around for 94 years. We have elections. So there.

The problem with that assertion is that, in the past, politicians have played by the rules. No attempts have been made to perpetuate a leader’s stay in office by rewriting the rules in their favour. Elections have been free and fair. But Bozo has been prepared to break the rules, and, worse, has been allowed to get away with it. So he’ll try to break some more. And if he continues to get away with it, some more after that. His pals and the press will back him.

How does anyone think Germany got to the position it did in 1940, with the fall of France? No-one stopped the Nazis. No-one opposed the annexations, the invasions, the increasing authoritarianism. Hitler was just getting on with the job, giving his country its pride back, ridding it of all those things that a compliant press said were Very Bad. It happened because it was allowed to happen. Remember that when Bozo talks about going on for another decade.

The USA came very close with Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, another narcissist and egomaniac who, like Bozo, has broken rules and laws because he has been allowed to get away with it. But the States’ checks and balances stopped him perpetuating himself in power. The UK does not have a written constitution. But it does have a leader who has, in plain sight, told us of his intention to remain in power. Full stop. That’s out of order. He has to go.

It is time for the Tories to remove Bozo while they still can. Before the Johnson cult and its leader tip the UK over the totalitarian edge. That is all.

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Saturday 25 June 2022

Lib-Lab Pact - DEAL WITH IT

Some may not have believed the Zelo Street assertion that the right leaning part of our free and fearless press (for which read most of it) and the Tory party under the less than benign leadership of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson were now as one, such was the level of mutual dependence. But, as so often, the opposition rides to the rescue, and both Tories and press have come galloping into view together.

Daily Mail talking about truth. Yes, well ...

What has sorely tested Bozo and the press elite is the thought that Labour and the Lib Dems may have come to some sort of arrangement for last week’s Parliamentary by-elections, no matter how informal, whereby Labour focused on regaining Wakefield, while Ed Davey and his team put all their efforts into taking previously rock-solid blue Tiverton and Honiton.

As both campaigns proved successful, this gave both Tories and press their cue to unload on the victors. First came comedy Attorney General Suella Braverman, having seen that majorities like hers can be overturned, to whine plaintively “It's disappointing to see that there's actually a dishonest electoral pact between the LibDems & Labour, and that's more worrying”.

How do you achieve a “dishonest electoral pact”? Is there a law against such deals? Because if there were, the Tories, along with former Brexit Party Oberscheissenf├╝hrer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, and the Rothermere press, would be in deep doo-doo, the press for encouraging a pact between Brexit Party and Tories, and the two parties for coming to an “understanding”.

Not to mention another of those “understandings”, the one reached by the then beleaguered Theresa May and the DUP in 2017 after she had called a snap General Election and carelessly misplaced her majority. Which involved a bung, sorry, funding enhancement, of around £1 billion. Where, one wonders, does that rank on the Braverman scale of honesty?

And to confirm that press and Tories are indeed in lockstep, today the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, no doubt driven on by the expletives, sorry, entreaties of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, have joined the attack in a characteristic display of righteous faux outrage.

After apparent Lib-Lab alliance deals Boris double by-election blow … JAVID: TELL PUBLIC THE TRUTH ABOUT ANTI-TORY PACT … LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats must ‘come clean’ over whether they have an electoral pact, a Cabinet minister said last night”. You and whose army, O Vagina Monologue? In language Dacre will understand, FUCK OFF.

The then Liberal Party had a pact with the SDP for some years: they fought two General Elections alongside one another (1983 and 1987, for those not of A Certain Age). Nowadays, the Lib Dems have not stood a candidate against Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion in either 2017 or 2019. Parties are not compelled to stand candidates, nor to campaign actively for them.

There is no barrier, legal or otherwise, to pacts, formal or otherwise: nothing stopped both Labour and Lib Dems standing aside in Tatton in 1997 to give Martin Bell the best chance of disposing of the deeply unpleasant and irredeemably corrupt Mostyn Neil Hamilton. The recipient of Mohamed Fayed’s legendary brown envelopes was duly dispatched.

If the press and the Tories want to identify the real culprit, they should turn their attention to the First Past The Post electoral system. Each constituency can only have one winner. On mainland Europe, it is not uncommon to have multi-member districts that elect their representatives using proportional systems like the d’Hondt method. Ah, but the local link, they will protest.

That would be the Tories protesting, many of whose candidates have no base, and indeed no interest, in their constituency. Like Bozo in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. The party which still includes MPs who have employment, and directorships, elsewhere. Anyone might conclude that the press just wants to defend a system which benefits its chosen party.

If that press really wanted to promote The Will Of The People, it would not have a problem with maximising the effectiveness of the anti-Tory majority. But it doesn’t, and so it howls in protest, knowing that, should it fail in this latest attempt to gaslight the electorate, its chosen party will be toast.

The people will decide. If it’s not to the press’ liking, BOO SODDING HOO.

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Friday 24 June 2022

Tiverton And Honiton - The Curse Of Hodges

Early this morning, the singularly unpleasant Oliver Dowden, chairman of the Conservative Party, took out a king-size onion as he penned his letter to alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson resigning his post, to the relief of all those who wished it had happened rather earlier.

He's desperate, Dan

It is with great sadness that I must resign as Chairman of the Conservative Party with immediate effect” he blubbered, before adding “Yesterday’s Parliamentary by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor results … We cannot carry on with business as usual. Someone must take responsibility”.

And the someone was not going to be Bozo, who has already declared that, despite losing the “Red Wall” seat of Wakefield to Labour, and, rather more humiliatingly, seeing the Lib Dems overturn a 24,000 Tory majority to win the rural seat of Tiverton and Honiton by 6,000 votes, he will “keep going”.

But the loss of Dowden, who had been a full-throated and especially nasty cheerleader for the PM, stoking up the culture war deflection machine and going to war on Woke - a word whose meaning he probably doesn’t know, and certainly doesn’t understand - will knock away another pillar of support.

Moreover, if the Lib Dems can turn a 24,000 Tory majority into a 6,000 lead of their own, no Tory is safe. Like usually unswerving Bozo loyalists Priti Patel in Witham and the fragrant (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries in Mid Bedfordshire, not to mention smaller majorities like those of Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton, and Bozo himself in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Worst of all for Bozo, and so soon after he survived a no confidence vote in which more than 140 of his own MPs voted against his leadership, is that the result in Tiverton and Honiton will reopen the debate on whether it is time for him to leave 10 Downing Street. He will never resign of his own volition, though. The Tories will have to drag him out kicking and screaming.

So what might have cursed the campaign in the south west? Ah well. We do not have to look far for evidence: step forward the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who visited the constituency and concluded that the Tories would retain the seat.

That’s the same Dan Hodges who said Jeremy Corbyn would not become Labour leader, that Remain would win the 2016 EU referendum, and that Hillary Clinton would beat Combover Crybaby Donald Trump for the US Presidency in 2016. The Hodges curse has a long and infamous history.

And it was no different when the Nostradamus of Northcliffe House cast his analytical net in the general direction of Tiverton and Honiton. “As the Honiton by-election approaches, true blue Devon's farming folk aren't quite ready to kiss Boris Johnson goodbye” declared the headline. And there was more.

The sprawling rural constituency cascades all the way from the wilds of Exmoor down to the rugged Jurassic Coast. But I’m beginning to think reports that it will provide the backdrop to the Prime Minister’s political demise have been overstated”. Why so? Well, he’s not sure about those Lib Dems.

I’m not detecting the sort of visceral anger over Partygate, or other issues, I was told to expect. It’s true the Lib Dems have the most visible presence. There are fields and barns displaying their distinctive orange signs proclaiming ‘Winning Here’. But are they?” Hodges no doubt earned the approval of his bosses at the MoS for that. But he had cursed Bozo.

Because, once more, The Curse Of Hodges had struck. The dreaded black spot had been placed upon Bozo, his hero from the days when Johnson was the very occasional Mayor of London. If Tiverton and Honiton spells the end for Bozo, it will not be unreasonable to claim that It Was Dan Wot Done It.

When another Dan Hodges wrong call comes up, the words of Winston Churchill on Austen Chamberlain inevitably come to mind: “He always played the game, and he always lost”. But if his curse rids UK politics of the worst Prime Minister ever, he will have done his country a great service.

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Thursday 23 June 2022

Murdoch - Invisible Through Fear

The power of our free and fearless press rests not only on what they are prepared to publish, but also on what they are prepared not to publish. And nothing demonstrates this with greater clarity than this week’s news about the life and current activities of one Rupert Murdoch. Don Rupioni, the capo di tutti i capi of the Murdoch mafiosi, has been visiting London.

Report? On my visit to London? You won't

He is also, according to the New York Times and Washington Post - note, neither of them based in the UK - about to go through his fourth divorce, as he and former model Jerry Hall are apparently about to call time on a marriage that has endured all of six years. The press in the UK, much of which Murdoch owns, has said approximately zip about the split.

The BBC has cautiously toldMedia tycoon Rupert Murdoch and actress Jerry Hall are getting a divorce, US media report … Representatives for Mr Murdoch and Ms Hall, who wed at a mansion in central London in 2016, are yet to comment … Their split comes as a surprise to those close to the family, according to the New York Times … That newspaper and the Washington Post cited anonymous sources with knowledge of the separation”.

But little press coverage, and suitably caveated. Rupe’s London visit has not even fared that well: his annual parties had been in abeyance during the pandemic, but now they were back, the latest at the Serpentine Gallery. Had the host been a Hollywood A-lister, or even a C- or D-lister, the hacks and snappers would have been out in force, reporting every arrival.

So how many hacks and snappers were at the Serpentine Gallery? None. Nil. Nix. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Not a sausage. Bugger all. So we don’t know who felt the need to pay fealty at the court of Don Rupioni, although it has been reported that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and most of his cabinet rocked up there, plus the current Labour leadership.

Perhaps some of those attendees mentioned the event on social media? Not as such. Murdoch visits London; no photos record his arrival; no-one tells where he goes or who he meets; no transfer service lets slip that they carried him from the airport; no restaurant visits are reported; no photos are taken of or at his party; no attendee confirms their attendance.

He might have been there. And so might she

This matters: Murdoch has backed or enabled a whole string of Governments around the world, in his native Australia, in the UK, and most infamously in the USA, where he is now a citizen. He has enabled the rise of Bozo, and Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, both utterly unfit for high office.

Moreover, he has, through his media interests, pushed climate change denial, white supremacism, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, union bashing, Europhobia, and Covid denial (despite being one of the first to get vaccinated). His empire has spread misinformation and disinformation on an epic scale. Yet he is not accountable for the mess he creates.

His press is now covering for Bozo to the extent that it has pulled stories in order to placate the PM and his third wife - with other print media following suit. Yet he is able to command a wall of silence to descend: he was there, but we should take that on trust. We are not permitted to know more.

Rupert Murdoch is the ultimate expression of the asymmetrical relationship between our free and fearless press and the rest of society: he is allowed anonymity, privacy, discretion, secrecy even. All of those attributes are not given by his part of the press, or indeed most of the rest of the press, to those they target, no matter how rich, how apparently powerful they are.

Tom Watson was ridiculed when he characterised the Murdoch empire as a mafia operation. He keeps being proved right: so many people keeping quiet and seeing nothing does not come about by coincidence. We have here a media baron who rules by fear. So many politicians - and not just Tories - too frightened to admit they were there. Scared of potential reprisals.

We used to laugh at countries in the grip of mafia organisations. There seems less humour value now that the boot is so firmly on the other foot.

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Wednesday 22 June 2022

Arise Baron Vagina Of Monologue

An ever-reliable source of unintentional hilarity at the close of each year was the Daily Mail railing at the honours system, thundering righteously at those getting gongs who it had decided were not the Mail’s kind of people. The driving force behind the annual tirade was the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, now installed as editor-in-chief of the Mail titles.

None of your f***ing business, c***

The hilarity was because Dacre was, once again, not getting a gong. His predecessor David English had been knighted, and so had contemporaries like Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins. Wouldn’t anyone think about the poor Vagina Monologue? Dacre had been pals with Gordon Brown, but he didn’t do gongs. But now a saviour has appeared to put things right.

Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (for it is he) has, it is now rumoured, decided to not merely hand Dacre a K, but to ennoble him: welcome Baron Dacre of Boiling Rage in the county of Righteous Hypocrisy. This act would legitimise one thing: the poisoning of political discourse, excused as journalism, to the permanent detriment of the UK’s well-being.

Paul Dacre is a remarkable phenomenon: the miraculous human form of an energy source that can take the stalest wind and piss and convert it (very noisily) into an inexhaustible stream of expletives. But like any uncontained reaction, the Dacre energy source spreads contamination, and contamination far worse than the worst nuclear leak, accident, or, perhaps, detonation.

Dacre contaminates those who work for him: they are paid well, and in exchange they do as they are told. As one former Mail man told Nick Davies, “it’s fear versus good money”. The instructions may mean indulging in homophobia, misogyny, racism (including anti-Semitism), and yes, deliberate defamation. Journalistic principles are left at the door.

Dacre contaminates his targets: Davies, in Flat Earth News, put together a roll call of well known names who had been defamed by the Mail and who had been forced to seek redress through the courts. But Davies’ work also touches on those who are not well off enough to risk going to law.

The Dacre contamination is at its most insidious here: the little people are defamed because the Mail knows it can get away with it: Sue Us If You Think You’re Hard Enough. Sue, and the Mail will just string out the process, appealing, delaying, all the while publishing more and more hit pieces on those who dare to call in lawyers. It gets prohibitively expensive, it wears down the claimants. Dacre doesn’t care. He is right, because he says so.

Dacre contaminates his own readers: they really believe that Brexit is A Very Good Thing, that the Royals are an eternal and untouchable asset to all of us, that there are a lot more Scary Muslims™ than in reality, that the elite is someone else, that the Mail is a force for good, that the precipitous decline of the UK is down to Rotten Lefties™ and unscrupulous foreigners.

Thus contaminated, they fail to question why their lot is worsening, while for the likes of Dacre, the world continues to be excellent. For him there will be no scrimping and saving: he has a house in Belgravia, a mansion in the Home Counties, an estate in Scotland (which has been, in the past, in receipt of EU farm subsidies), and both his sons went to Eton.

Hatred, boiling rage and the contamination of political discourse has made him unfeasibly rich - to the point where he, like all too many of his senior staff, has become irreparably separated from the increasingly grim reality facing those he so determinedly gaslights. As a reward for contaminating the UK, Bozo is apparently rewarding him with a place in the legislature.

Not that he will wield significant influence once there: like terrorist sympathiser Claire Fox, the ennoblement is merely another part of Bozo’s attempt to whip up a culture war as a means of providing a little more momentary interest to the proletariat. It is a signal to the world that serving the PM’s interests trumps the damage Dacre’s contamination has done.

Screwing over your country can be so lucrative. Pity about the mess, mind.

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Tuesday 21 June 2022

Keir Starmer Is Frit

Whatever the demerits accumulated during his tenure as Prime Minister, Tony Blair - the last Labour leader to win a General Election - began with a well-trailed programme of action, including legislation on the minimum wage. This provoked howls of protest from the right and their pals in our free and fearless press. Businesses would go bust! Bosses would become impoverished!

This was total crap: the reality was that ordinary people would have more money in their pockets. Blair, whatever his failings, also had the ban on Trade Union membership at GCHQ ended: this, too, was in the teeth of press hostility. Section 28 was later sent to the scrapheap, also to a chorus of right-wing hostility. This level of boldness, sadly, has not endured.

Not with the leadership of Keir Starmer, that is: the current Labour Party has become craven and cowed in the face of the bully boys. There is no boldness, indeed, no discernible anything. What does Labour stand for? It seems that the party now stands for nothing that will provoke the media - including, to its shame, the equally craven and cowed BBC.

Would Labour back those taking, or contemplating, industrial action in pursuit of a decent level of pay? You jest. One hates to come over all Neil Kinnock, but here we have the party of the workers - the party of the workers - ordering its front benchers not to join picket lines. Not to stand in solidarity with their fellow Trade Unionists. To pass by on the other side.

How would Labour deal with the self-imposed act of national harm that is Brexit? As soon as the press establishment demands to know if Labour’s solution includes free movement of people, the whimpering climbdown begins. Sorry Sir Press Baron, didn’t mean it, we’ll go and sit quietly in the corner and not mention it again, please don’t do too many hit jobs on us.

How about Trans rights, and the right-wing assault on Trans people, who are already a vulnerable minority? At the first mention of the puerile Gotcha question - “Can a woman be born with a willy? Tee hee, Labour mug, got you” - instead of unswerving support, there is the fog of bluster. And don’t even mention supporting the victims of press misbehaviour. There isn’t any.

Worst of all, the timidity will merely embolden the right-wing press and its hangers-on. Far from eschewing hit jobs, it will only encourage more of them. Right now, the likes of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, and the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks will be slavering with anticipation: they’ll have cowardly new-look Labour for breakfast.

The Mail’s vicious and dishonest attack on Starmer’s deputy Angela Rayner was not an exception. It was a mere sighting shot, a rehearsal for a far more organised and far nastier campaign, a campaign that will, with the certainty of night following day, accompany the next General Election.

And those attacks will only get worse if Labour is still believed to be taking advice from Peter Mandelson, a press hate figure from the Blair years whose closeness - maybe fleeting - to Jeffrey Epstein will be fuel to the boilers in press efforts to dump on the party. The Mail already did misogyny without breaking sweat: homophobia will not concern them one jot.

Blair got some of the press, including Murdoch’s titles - although arguably at too great a price - on side. Starmer will not. His columns in the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph are pointless: as soon as the starting gun is fired, the title will turn on him. The press is so heavily invested in alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson that it is now as one with the Tory Party. There is no point trying to win it over.

Every and any Labour leader will be attacked: as it was with Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn, so it will be with Starmer, and whoever comes after him. Cowering in the corner will not change that. Voters will not endorse a party that stands for nothing in particular. So Labour should start right now and say that it does stand for something - and stick to its guns.

At least show some fight, some courage of conviction, some solidarity with ordinary working people. Show some backbone, stop avoiding the issues, and stop standing for nothing in the vain hope that the press will leave off. It won’t. The strikes this summer will only intensify. Pick a side. You can’t sit on the fence. You’re the workers’ party. So stand with them.

People are hungry for leadership. They won’t get it from the Tories or their pals. Be bold, stand firm, and lead. Or leave the field to someone who will.

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Monday 20 June 2022

Boris, Carrie, And Whack-A-Mole

While his pals in our free and fearless press are trying to get their readers to look at all the Rotten Lefties™ who are either going on strike, or seriously considering doing so, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is encountering one of those Little Local Difficulties involving his wife Carrie. And yet more alleged corruption. And it won’t go away.

What happened can be put directly: early editions of Saturday’s Times ran a story titled “Johnson tried to give Carrie top Foreign Office job during affair”, claiming that Bozo had attempted to have his then mistress made chief of staff at his own department. The story follows up a claim in Michael Ashcroft’s biography of Carrie Johnson, First Lady, and effectively confirms it.

That revelation was bad enough - although nothing Bozo gets up to any longer has much in the way of shock value - but then the story vanished. It also vanished from Mail Online, which had recycled the claims for a few more clicks. MSN, which had syndicated the Mail Online version, followed suit. Someone had whacked, or caused to be whacked, the mole.

But then, by the iron law of the Streisand Effect, lots more smaller moles emerged. The journalist whose name appeared on the story’s by-line, Simon Walters, is Old School. He doesn’t just make stuff up. He does the hard yards, asks the questions, gets the answers. His trophy cabinet includes former Tory MP Aidan Burley - over the Nazi-themed stag party.

Walters stood by his story. So then came the questions. Had there been some kind of injunction? Press Gazette has today quashed that one: had there been an injunction, there could have been no reporting on the story being pulled, something the Guardian and New European have now done. So who pulled the story, and who caused the story-puller to act?

Now things got much more interesting: Times editor John Witherow had been away, and Saturday’s edition was overseen by his deputy, the deeply unpleasant Tony Gallagher. “Multiple sources” told the Guardian that he made the decision to pull the story. Gallagher is a friend of Bozo. So then a direct line was drawn to Downing Street intervention. But on whose behalf?

The Oh What A Giveaway moment came when someone speaking on behalf of Carrie Johnson declared that the central claim in the Times story was untrue. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the claims were also made in the Ashcroft biography. And, it seems, no legal action has been taken against its publishers. Well, well.

At this point, regular readers of Private Eye magazine may recall Bozo intervening to try and have another story spiked, on the grounds that “Carrie is very upset” by it. But why might she also be upset over a story that, at its heart, merely riffs on a claim already made in a book already published and still out there? And why are the Times and Mail so coy about it all?

More questions, more moles to whack, more Streisand Effects coming, and to come. One of the answers may be found in the Ashcroft book, an excerpt from which is still live at Mail Online. This claims that before Carrie met Bozo, “she had become close to other men, one of whom was a married Conservative MP with a high public profile”. Who was not Bozo.

So there’s another question: who he? While that one sinks in, “Hearing that then Foreign Secretary Johnson was looking for a new special adviser, Carrie approached him about the role”. She didn’t get it. Then, in early 2018, “Johnson seemed keener on the plan [to appoint a chief of staff]. The person he had in mind for the plum, six-figure role? Carrie Symonds”.

What might also not please Carrie is this snippet: “'For Boris, Carrie was a fling,' says a source close to these events. 'He never expected to be with her long-term. He was shocked when Marina said she was divorcing him. He never expected it. So he settled for Carrie.’” OUCH! It gets worse.

Tony Gallagher

She is portrayed as controlling and manipulative. “She wasn't prepared to roll her sleeves up and work hard, and yet she interfered all the time … The problem was she would want to control everything, but she wouldn't work with anyone”. And, after Bozo became PM, “We learned pretty quickly there was a culture of fear around touching anything that Carrie didn't like”.

And one source made this damning claim: “I would say Boris is trapped in an emotionally disruptive relationship. I think he's definitely scared of her and I think she dominates him. In private moments he would say words to the effect of, 'Don't do anything that's going to make her torture me when I get home. You've just got to help me. My life at home's miserable. You've got to find a way to make this bearable for me.' He'd speak with exasperation in his eyes”.

That may be why the Times story got pulled. But that excerpt from the Ashcroft book is still live, and the book still available. Whoever has been playing Whack-A-Mole on behalf of Bozo and his third wife has failed miserably. And no chorus of supportive voices denouncing the claims as “unfair” or “sexist” is going to make any of it go away any time soon.

Nor will blaming the spread of this story on The Left or Bitter Remoaners have any effect. The genie is out of the bottle. And it isn’t going back in.

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Sunday 19 June 2022

Tories Lying About Strikes

It was put to Transport Secretary Grant “Spiv” Shapps by Sophie Raworth on the BBC’s Sunday Morning that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his coterie of ineptitude were effectively provoking this week’s rail strikes. Shapps was shocked, I tell you. Shocked! No one in their right mind would do that sort of thing. Except for his opponents.

Three spivs walked in to a bar ...

So it was no surprise at all to hear him claiming “we discover today ... that behind the scenes Keir Starmer has been encouraging the unions to go on strike”. This was a flat-out lie, and sadly for a party that is supposed to be not only credible, but actually in Government, it isn’t the only one that has been circulated about the upcoming strike, such is the level of Tory desperation.

More generally, and all too predictably, after negotiations broke down and the RMT successfully balloted its members on strike action, the Tories, by complete coincidence you understand, because they hadn’t been trying to provoke the strikes for political purposes just to kick off another front in the culture war, oh no, had a Labour-bashing propaganda angle all ready to go.

The action called by the RMT, was immediately denounced as “Labour Strikes”, which would be an interesting circle to see squared, given that the RMT and Labour went their separate ways in 2004. Perhaps Shapps will be along soon to claim that Bob Crow planned the action before then.

That, though, was not an end to the lying: today’s edition of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has run an even bigger whopper as its lead story, claiming “Unions ‘bribing’ workers to strike”, readers then being told “Kwarteng rails at doubling of payments to those taking part in industrial action”. So how much truth is there in that “bribing” claim?

The answer is that there is no truth at all. The figure which the Tel is advertising is £70 a day strike pay. It is, though, claimed to be “tax free”. So let’s take this one nice and slowly, for the benefit of Bozo cultists and others invested in The Adoration Of The Boris. The average pay for an RMT member in those pay grades where they’re striking is £33,000 a year.

Which means somewhere north of £650 a week, more than £130 a day. Even with tax deducted, that means rather more than £70. So if £70 is what is on offer in lieu of actually being paid, that is not, repeat is not, repeat IS NOT a bribe. Which is why the quote marks were used. Because it’s another lie.

But the Tories get their talking points in the papers, the BBC, now frightened to say boo to them, then regales opposition politicians with puerile Gotcha questions like “do you support the strikers?” and “if you were an RMT member, would you be going on strike?” The culture war has another wedge issue added to it, the Tories slap one another on the back, the farce goes on.

Meanwhile, all those commuters, students, those travelling to hospital appointments, and all the businesses seeing the cancellations rack up, first of all get screwed over, and then get gaslit as the Tories tell them that, like everything else Bozo and Co mess up, it’s all someone else’s fault.

The Tories: so patriotic, they’re hell bent on screwing over their own country.

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