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Saturday 30 July 2022

Rebekah Vardy And The Sun

After the all too predictable outcome to the lawsuit launched by Rebekah Vardy in the general direction of Coleen Rooney, the observation by J K Galbraith about the Bay of Pigs fiasco came to mind: “not since Joshua’s trumpets at Jericho had there been a military operation in which there was so little rational expectation of success”. Ms Vardy lost. So she’s paying.

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney ((c) Reuters)

How much? First estimates have come in at around the £2 million mark. The action, brought after Ms Rooney suggested that Ms Vardy was the one who was passing personal information to the Murdoch Sun, became known as the Wagatha Christie case, or alternatively The Scousetrap. It showed that the paper was effectively using Ms Vardy as a source of cheap copy. A lot.

What led the two WAGs to court was put directly by the Guardian: “[Ms Rooney] wrote that for several years she suspected someone of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the Sun … she posted fake stories on Instagram - she was looking into gender selection for her next baby; the family’s basement had flooded - and alternately blocked and unblocked her followers, restricting access to the fake stories until there was only one account viewing these stories, which then appeared in the Sun”.

She then revealed whose account that was: “It’s.......... Rebekah Vardy’s account”. Ms Vardy denied that she sold stories: “I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money”. But the steady drip-drip of evidence suggested otherwise. Her agent, only days after being ordered to disclose messages to the court, “dropped her phone in the North Sea while filming the coastline”.

Also, “many of Vardy’s messages mysteriously vanished when she was trying to send them to her lawyers”. And then there was “the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when Vardy and several other Wags were photographed together, which, according to Rooney’s lawyer, Vardy secretly set up with the paparazzi without telling the other women”. These revelations had one result.

They had a most unfortunate effect on Ms Vardy’s reputation. The same reputation that she had brought the case in order to defend. The Guardian piece noted that “Vardy enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Sun: she posed for paparazzi shots and gave interviews, and they ran puff pieces with her and referred to her as ‘Queen of the Wags’”.

However, “By contrast, the Rooneys, being Liverpudlian and more private by nature anyway, never talk to the Sun and are frequently trashed in that paper”. They did, though, whisper it quietly, come out of the trial process with their reputations considerably enhanced: Wayne, the supportive husband and straight-down-the-line witness, Coleen someone who knows who her friends are and sticks by them. They are what Scousers would simply call Sound.

That cannot be said for the Murdoch Sun, which took a highly partisan view of the trial, with headlines like “Coleen Rooney slapped with £250k court bill as she’s forced to pay Rebekah Vardy’s legal costs in Wagatha battle” allied to claims such as “COLEEN Rooney has suffered another huge blow in her battle with Becky Vardy”. The paper suggested Ms Vardy might win the case.

Hence claims such as “I will donate every penny to charity if I win my bitter court battle with Coleen Rooney, vows Becky Vardy” (for which the paper claimed an “exclusive”, merely fuelling claims that Ms Vardy was passing them stories). Even when the verdict was revealed, readers were told that “DEFEATED Rebekah Vardy today insisted the judge ‘got it wrong’ after she lost her epic Wagatha Christie case against Coleen Rooney”.

One look at the Sun’s hoard of Goss from Ms Vardy tells you how beneficial the relationship between the two has been. All of which begs the question: they used her to get stories about the England football team, and much more - so when are the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker going to open their wallets and contribute the odd million to Ms Vardy’s legal costs?

Those could be £2 million. They could be as high as £3 million. The Super Soaraway Currant Bun would have had to shell out a significant percentage of that amount to bring in the stories, had they not had Ms Vardy and her agent doing the work for them. One Rebekah helping another, perhaps.

The Sun could redeem itself here. But the possibility of that? None at all.

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Friday 29 July 2022

Rishi Sunak And Racist Hypocrisy

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak got his racism in first at yesterday’s Tory leadership hustings, telling the mainly elderly and almost exclusively white audience of party members “The sun has been shining - so much so that someone even said to me the other day 'wow, you've got a great tan’”. Ah, memories of Charlie Williams on The Comedians, owning the bigots by telling them his Dad had been a colour sergeant in the Black Watch.

Grgory "Lauder" Frost of the TBG

Sunak will be well aware that, despite the ethnically diverse starting line-up in the race to succeed alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the Tories are, at what still passes for grass roots level, a deeply racist organisation. Those no longer allowed into the Tory tent are worse.

Which brings us to the Traditional Britain Group, domain of faux posh bigot Gregory “Lauder” Frost, a refuge for some of those forced out of the Tory party when Iain Duncan Cough called time on the Monday Club. Yes, they were too extreme even for him. The TBG are deeply concerned at the prospect of a Sunak premiership, and have put out a statement to that effect.

First comes the fantasy: “The BBC have brazenly led the rest of the left-wing media campaigning against Boris Johnson for the past year, at least. Now they have won”. No mention that Bozo’s downfall was brought about by his own colleagues, but when propaganda is your bag, reality matters little.

Then comes the flat-out racism. “The TBG also note with the usual disgust, the state of the fake Conservative Party and this latest proposal to potentially install an alien-origin Minister as the Prime Minister of the UK, with questionable citizenship, taxation and loyalty questions”. Er, hello?

They’ve just bemoaned the Tories disposing of someone of alien origin (Bozo was born in New York City), and his loyalty, well, one has to wonder. But this whining has nothing to do with factual analysis. It is because Sunak is not white, something that comes clear from reading the rest of the TBG screed.

He called me WHAT?

Almost 9 out of 10 people in the UK, officially at least, remain European / Caucasians and it is these most representative British people who should be governing OUR nation”. That’s mighty white of them. Thus the effective admission that the TBG backs Whitey Power. It’s a racist organisation.

But here a problem enters: talk of alien origin individuals and people who are “European / Caucasianslets out the head man of the TBG. Because Gregory “Lauder” Frost is of alien origin. And that origin certainly isn’t European.

The TBG’s leading light affects a posh accent, but no amount of trying can totally erase the residual hint of Strine: Gregory “Lauder” Frost likes to claim a link with Scots entertainer Harry Lauder, and suggest he was born in London’s Mayfair, but he was actually born plain Gregory Frost, in a Salvation Army maternity hospital in Newcastle - as in Newcastle, New South Wales.

Worse, he comes from a family of economic migrants. Gregory “Lauder” Frost’s mother had a grandfather called Matt Lauder, who was the brother of Harry Lauder. That’s as close as he gets. Matt Lauder had a son, also called Matt. They emigrated from Scotland to Australia, but by the early 1920s had emigrated again, this time to the west coast of the USA. There was more.

That TBG statement in full

And although Matt Lauder Junior became a US citizen in 1930, the family later emigrated once more, this time back to Australia. Matt Junior was on the electoral register in New South Wales by 1943. And it was in that part of the world that his daughter married. Cecily Lauder married Wallace Frost, described on the marriage certificate as a “Boilermaker”, in Newcastle, NSW, in April 1948. Their second son Gregory was born there in 1951. Born plain Gregory Frost. To a family comprised mainly of economic migrants.

That’s a tricky detail for someone who told the increasingly desperate and downmarket TelegraphMost of the refugees [to Britain] are economic migrants, and the government should deport them as soon as possible”. Someone so racist and hypocritical that he smears Sunak as “alien origin” while managing to miss that Sunak was born in Southampton, and is British by birth. Gregory “Lauder” Frost is not. His is the real “alien origin”.

Good of the TBG, though, to let us know what used to be considered acceptable to the Tory party, and the racist hypocrisy of those whose real purpose is to support White Supremacy above all else.

Pity no-one who matters is listening to him nowadays. Sad, really.

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Thursday 28 July 2022

Keir Starmer Sacks The Pass

The Tories are so busy fighting among themselves that the business of Government is barely functioning: an increasing sense of drift and unrest is taking hold, more and more of those hardworking people who supported alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson are realising that he did not have their best interests at heart. Blaming others isn’t making it.

The business of opposition should be a straightforward one. So what will Labour do in response? What would a sensible opposition party have done? What would Nietzsche have done? Sadly, Labour under Keir Starmer has taken its eye off the ball and has prioritised not offending the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press. It wants to show that it is disciplined.

And so it came to pass that junior shadow transport minister Sam Tarry did what one might expect of someone representing the party of Labour: he joined a picket line, specifically at London’s Euston station. He was then sacked from his front bench role. This move generated severely adverse comment. So there had to be justification, which only made matters worse.

Sienna Rodgers, formerly of LabourList, had the official line: "Labour sources saying key reasons for sacking Tarry were him speaking on party policy and doing media without approval, rather than joining picket line”. Jon Stone was unimpressed. “The idea Sam Tarry was sacked for freelancing on policy doesn’t make a lot of sense given Rachel Reeves did it with rail nationalisation on the Today programme just yesterday”. And it got worse.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite The Union, was scathing: “another insult to the trade union movement. Quite frankly it would be laughable if it were not so serious … [Labour] has opted to continue to indulge in old factional wars … [Labour] is becoming more and more irrelevant to ordinary working people who are suffering”.

And one hates to come over all Neil Kinnock, but many of Labour’s own MPs - Labour’s own MPs - backed Tarry. Like Rachael Maskell, who represents York Central. “Every [Labour] politician should visit rail workers on the [RMT] picket lines & listen to why they are asking for job security, better safety & decent pay. Labour politicians are in Parliament to be their voice. [Sam Tarry] has shown leadership today ... a real Labour MP”. There was more.

Beth Winter (Cynon Valley) addedThe Labour Party is the political wing of the Trades Union movement.In the midst of the Tory cost-of-living crisis, the Labour movement should be united in standing shoulder to shoulder with striking workers … Solidarity Sam Tarry”. Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) was on the same page: “Labour MPs should be proud to stand with workers. The clue is in the name”. She also asserted solidarity with Tarry.

Sam Tarry

Worse still for Labour, the party, which had been flush with cash when Jeremy Corbyn was leader, is now in a reportedly parlous financial position. It is, whisper it quietly, heavily dependent on union funding to keep it afloat. It was a point that some were not backward in bringing forward.

Lynda Keen was one of them. “Why on earth is any trade union still giving the 'Labour' party funding? A 'Labour' party that refuses to support labour shouldn't be getting anything from unions”. To which Ava-Santina addedSacking Sam Tarry could be disastrous for Labour funding. Already nearing bankruptcy, the party could fold if all unions pull their funding”.

It comes back to the question I keep asking, and which thus far has not been attempted, let alone answered: what is Labour for? As Richard Murphy put it, “Since it would seem as though Keir Starmer is not interested in representing the best interests of working people in parliament could he let us know who he thinks might best do so instead?” The situation for Labour is grim.

Gone are the voices from the Corbyn era sneering that “with any other leader, Labour would be 20 points ahead”. More and more voters are indicating a preference for Lib Dems and Greens. Labour is strangely reticent in calling for disgraced Tory MP Chris Pincher to stand down and for there to be a by-election in Tamworth - yes, it would be on Labour to overturn his majority.

Inflation is taking off. Prices of food, energy, travel, and much else are climbing almost by the day. Living standards are falling. We have a Government that is more interesting in criminalising protest and propping up the rich and greedy than serving the electorate that put them there. People are crying out for leadership, yet from Labour there is timidity and silence.

Appeasement of the press barons isn’t going to work. Labour has to show what it is for: for working people, for reducing poverty and homelessness, for the NHS, for greener and better public transport, and yes, for fundamental rights like that to protest, to join a trade union, in pursuit of a better life.

If Keir Starmer and his pals can’t, or won’t, provide that leadership, maybe they should quietly leave the stage. And hand over to someone who will.

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Wednesday 27 July 2022

Bozo, Bunga Bunga, And Kompromat

To illustrate how far much of our free and fearless press has departed from reality, the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, has promoted under “Top storiesa photo of soon to be former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson with the caption “Boris tipped for NATO top job after ‘hero’ PM’s support for Ukraine: ‘perfect role’”. Why won’t it happen? Ah well.

"I don't know if I was really drunk at the time"

While the Express - and other newspapers where invention and the recycling of propaganda and press releases take priority over the inconvenience that is investigative journalism - continue their Bozo post-premiership Fantasy Island cruise, reality is once again intruding chez Johnson, this time over his trip to the Lebedev palazzo near Perugia, and what he did (and possibly said) there.

As the Guardian has reported, “Writing back to provide further detail in response to questions posed to him by MPs on the Commons liaison committee on 6 July, he stated that officials were aware in advance he was attending what he described as a social event, and that he did not take ministerial papers with him”. And then comes the difficult bit.

Bozo’s conclusion: “If a minister meets an external organisation or individual and finds themselves discussing official business without an official present - for example at a social occasion - any significant context should be passed back to the department after the event. That was not necessary in this case. As far as I am aware, no government business was discussed”.

AS FAR AS I AM AWARE. That phrase does not require invitation to leap off the page. Nor was it lost on any observers that Bozo had met not just Evgeny Lebedev at the “social event”, but also his father Alexander, who, Pippa Crerar of the Mirror reminds us, is an “ex-KGB agent”. Except that, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as an ex-KGB agent.

Moving right along, Jessica Simor asked another inconvenient question. “Why was [Rory Stewart], a Minister in the [Foreign Office] at the same time as Johnson was Foreign Secretary also get invited to Lebedev’s palazzo if the host did not intend (Government) business to be discussed - or ‘kompromised’? And why did he know to refuse the invitation?

Stewart was asked the question. He chose wisely. Bozo, it seems, chose poorly. And all the while that phrase - “As far as I am aware” - resonated with observers. Why might he not have been aware? Well, given the state of him when seen afterwards at Perugia Airport, it’s possible that he had become Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart, which may have loosened tongue and memory.

After all, he was unable to walk in a straight line even the morning afterwards. He had met someone infamous for recording conversations, and other potentially incriminating activities. A bunga bunga party - what more ideal opportunity could there be to gather a little Kompromat? No security detail present. No other witnesses. Law and Policy examined the excuses.

Carole Cadwalladr - vindicated AGAIN

Johnson's letter today could have said four things plainly and simply: 1. Alexander Lebenev's name … 2. That meeting Alexander Lebenev was unexpected … 3. That no official business was discussed … 4. That the meeting was reported to officials … But … It does none of these things”. So what did the letter do? The conclusion was as stark as it was damning.

Instead … We get 12 paragraphs, 9 of which irrelevant … Alexander Lebenev not mentioned by name … Meeting not ‘prearranged’ … ‘As far as I am aware’ no official business discussed - even though he would have complete knowledge … Elaborate admission meeting not reported to officials”. You can read more of that analysis HERE.

Boris Johnson has tried the “As far as I am aware” get-out clause before. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. What was discussed will, with the certainty of night following day, be revealed. Given his congenital lack of candour, it’s a nailed-on certainty that many observers will merely take that as an opening gambit, rather than a claim with any credibility to it.

Not long after that party, oops, sorry, “Social event”, Bozo ennobled Evgeny Lebedev, apparently after receiving a recommendation from the security services not to do so. As Private Eye magazine might have put it, I wonder if the two events are in any way related? I think we should be told.

As the much maligned Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the story, has noted, “We still don’t know what was said at that meeting. We don’t know if there are any official records of it. We don’t know who else was there. We don’t know what documents Johnson had in his possession. We don’t know if he betrayed secrets - either deliberately or inadvertently - about Nato’s strategy. ‘Profumo lost his job for a lot less,’ former Conservative MP Rory Stewart has noted, referring to Britain’s most famous political scandal”.

Why do so many out there on the right sneer and snipe at Ms Cadwalladr? You might wish to ask that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

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Tuesday 26 July 2022

Labour Economic Competence - OR NOT

While Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak continue to knock lumps out of each other as part of the increasingly surreal campaign for the Tory leadership, denying reality along the way - both have asserted that delays at the port of Dover, and at the Channel Tunnel terminal, were not down to Brexit, even though they most certainly were - the Labour opposition is setting its stall out.

This setting out occurred in Liverpool, where party leader Keir Starmer declaredWith my Labour Government, we will have: More innovation … More new technology … More research and development … More start ups … So Britain will be the best country in the world to start a new business”. But no mention of the Brexit elephant in the room. So no single market access.

Where is the hottest start-up city in Europe right now? It isn’t in the UK. Arguably, that city is Lisbon, which may be out on the western fringe of the Iberian peninsula, but it’s in the EU. And it isn’t about to leave. Labour could learn a lot from what has happened there. But no, we can’t talk about anything EU related, so painted into a corner has Labour become.

Another corner into which The Red Team has allowed itself to be painted is the N-Word, as in Nationalisation. Public ownership of rail, water and energy? Er, not as such. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said this would bust her “fiscal rules”. Chris Dillow was unimpressed. “I've no strong view on whether utilities should be nationalised or not. But to say that private ownership is ‘pragmatic’ & necessary to stick to fiscal rules is just pure gibberish”.

Rubber Macfisheries underwear with duff geriatric club? Maybe not that kind of gibberish. Dan Davies had a clue for budding economists and accountants: “I feel like if you're trying to show that you can be trusted on the economy, ‘I don't understand double entry bookkeeping’ isn't the best start”. A utility is nationalised and so appears on the public balance sheet as an asset.

Labour has allowed itself to be defined by talking points selected and nurtured by the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press - and all too willingly regurgitated by broadcasters. Also, the current rules for Public Sector Net Debt count the cost of a nationalised asset, but not the asset itself. But, even considering that, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.

One, Ms Reeves would have no problem sticking to a fiscal rule that she had carefully designed herself, in concert with her economic advisors. If the current rules for PSND don’t make sense when put alongside the basics of double-entry book-keeping, then maybe they should. End of problem.

Rachel Reeves

And Two, in the case of rail, it mostly is already nationalised: Network Rail is on the Government balance sheet. As for those running trains over the tracks that NR owns and maintains, well, the private sector has shown that freight works best in their hands, moves an increasing amount of tonnage over time, and makes money while doing it. So that can be left well alone.

But passenger operations do not: almost all are now either directly controlled by arms of Government (as with London Overground and TfL Rail), run by Government via an operator of last resort after the previous operator handed back the keys (InterCity East Coast, now branded as LNER), or are on management contracts, which is most of the rest. And that means one thing.

Those management contracts could be taken in house when the awards expire - a move which has previously been Labour policy - and there you have public operation of both track and train. No rewriting of the PSND rules would be required. But Labour is now the rabbit-in-the-media-headlights party and is frit of acting in what would be the public interest.

That this is the party which nationalised the railways - along with a significant amount of the road transport industry - in the immediate post-war years, when the UK was more or less bust ,shows how far the Overton Window has been moved to the right since Mrs T was first returned to power in 1979. Of course, Ms Reeves may be planning to nationalise anyway, should Labour get back into power, but that risks a further charge of rank dishonesty.

And we’ve had plenty of that from maybe soon to be former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and his coterie of ineptitude, already. How is Labour going to head off the spectre of yet more rises in energy bills next winter? How is it going to get a handle on higher and higher train fares? How will it get people out of their cars? Crickets.

What is Labour for? I keep asking this question. But I never get an answer.

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Sunday 24 July 2022

La Bataille De Douvres - Eh Merde

And so the excuses are deployed, the blame game reconfigured, the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press duly briefed: that which cannot be named has caused another traveller’s headache, thousands of holidaymakers have been delayed, with the conclusion as before. Brexit has bestowed upon us another of its negative benefits, and so it is someone else’s fault.

Schools broke up for the summer last week; it followed that there would be an exodus across the Channel beginning at the weekend. Airports would also be busier than usual, although, unlike at Easter, they had to yield the shock value crown to Dover, and to an extent the Channel Tunnel. Lorries faced yet more of those 18-hour delays. For holidaymakers it was a mere six hours.

The reason for this delay? Those days when passports would be proferred but waved away at French border posts were now over: as the UK had left the EU, and was now a Third Country, going from there to France meant crossing the EU’s external border. Passports must therefore have an entry stamp, and an exit stamp when passing in the opposite direction.

That enables EU member states to calculate how many of the 90 day allowance the passport holder has used up. All of this was signed up to when alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his merry men did the deal, executed their Oven Ready Turkey. We signed for it, it was what we wanted as part of Taking Back Control. But here a problem entered.

Admitting that the passport examination and stamping was the cause of those delays would mean admitting that Bozo and Co had fouled up, that there were no Brexit unicorns. This could never be allowed to happen. And so it came to pass that it was, as always when the Tories and Brexit coincide, someone else’s fault. And that someone else was the dastardly French.

Liz Truss (for it was she) told the French to sort their act out, and to make sure this was heard by her intended audience, she told them on the front page of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph. But her intended audience was not the French Government: it was the membership of the Tory Party. Nonetheless, this became the established wisdom.

So Dover’s Tory MP Natalie Elphicke also blamed the French. They were foreign, they were in the EU, therefore They Done It. She backed Brexit, therefore Brexit could not be the problem. It was left to travel expert Simon Calder, first seen brandishing a suspiciously European-looking passport outside London’s King’s Cross station, to bring the inconvenient truth.

Even before broadcaster LBC toldPort of Dover boss Doug Bannister tells LBC that it is 'absolutely true' that Brexit is ultimately to blame for the extreme delays at the port of Dover”, Calder had reminded usSince Brexit, everybody has to have their passport not just looked at, but properly stamped. That’s something we insisted on when we left the EU”. Soon he was off to Dover.

His verdict? “The blunt fact is leaving the EU has made leaving the UK much more difficult … it’s basically about 70 seconds … because the frontier official [has to stamp passports] - we asked to be treated like this, they’re not picking on us … we said we wanted to be third country nationals, we want to have our passports stamped when we go into Europe, we want to have all of that bureaucracy, that’s what we asked for”. No-one’s fault bar our own.

Not surprisingly, this inability of our Government and its press pals to come clean with the public caused irritation across the Channel: after the Blame The French Ploy was enacted, “French Transport Minister Clement Beaune hit back, saying France was not responsible for the additional border checks brought on by Brexit”. We should not blame what we wanted on others.

But blame it we will. The problem for Bozo and his potential successors is that an increasing number of that formerly adoring public is seeing through the fog of misinformation: Brexit has bestowed another of its benefits, and so Brexit is to blame. Along with the charlatans who sold it to us.

Brexit means bureaucracy. It means queuing. It means delays. Sad, really.

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Saturday 23 July 2022

Bring Back Boris? YOU WISH

Fresh from his failure to get the Royals to buy into the idea of the Government buying them a yacht to replace HMY Britannia - Brenda passed that one to Charles, who might enjoy using the Royal Train, but isn’t interested in either the yacht, nor the political manoeuvring that goes with it - shameless client journalist Christopher “No” Hope of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph now has another failure in his sights.

This man is an idiot

Hope has decided to promote the idea that soon-to-be-former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson should be allowed to mount a comeback. Bring back Boris! In pursuit of this fresh idiocy, he told his followersI am not sure people are paying enough attention to what is going on in the Conservative grassroots and many members’ fury over the defenestration of Boris Johnson”. Yeah, right. But there was more.

This could have long term (negative) consequences for the Conservative party … One Cabinet minister loyal to Mr Johnson was supportive of the campaign, telling me: ‘There is complete and utter despair and disbelief at what has happened. It is no wonder grassroots members feel their voices have been cancelled out by a minority in the Parliamentary party’”.

Who d’you reckon? Nadine Dorries? Dominic Raab? Who knows, and, indeed, who cares? There was yet more. “The Cabinet minister adds: ‘These are the same people who year after year, decade after decade, have chosen to silence the membership of the Conservative Party for their own preferment and betterment … And that is wrong.” So how has Hope proceeded?

He has first assertedPut simply, there are two battles for the Tory leadership going on. The official one, between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, selected for the masses by Tory MPs, and the second unofficial campaign among some Tory grassroots activists to restore Boris Johnson to the throne”, before advertising an alleged Tory members’ campaign to restore Bozo.

And so it came to pass that Hope claimed an “exclusive” for what turned out to be less than totally reliable news, tellingTory MPs starting to break over and support the ‘Bring Back Boris’ campaign if the PM wants to stay on. Some 7,600 party members now backing the petition for a confirmatory vote organised by [Peter Cruddas] and [David Campbell Bannerman]".

This looked almost impressive at first sight, until you realised that (a) 7,600 was not a particularly large percentage of the total Tory membership, and, more significantly (b), they were not all Tory members anyway.

I kid you not: David Jeffery, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, brought Hope the bad news. “There is literally no way of knowing if these signatories are party members. The form asks for a membership number but the people organising this have no way of validating it. This is like reporting the results of a Twitter poll as fact. Embarrassing fake news”. Was it that bad?

It certainly was:Will Penning respondedI’m not even a tory member and I ‘signed’”, adding screen shots. Cyrus Newman did likewise, both using very obvious fake addresses matched with joke names, although stopping short of invoking Naughtius Maximus, Sillius Soddus or Biggus Dickus.

It gets worse: as the Guardian has pointed out, “Despite having resigned as Conservative leader, Johnson still faces a parliamentary probe over whether he misled MPs when he told them repeatedly that ‘all guidance was followed’ in Downing Street during the pandemic - something subsequently proved to be untrue … could be forced to face a byelection in his Uxbridge constituency if he is found to have misled MPs over Partygate, a report from the House of Commons privileges committee has made clear”. Comeback? No chance.

Bozo is, like his pal Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, trying to cling on to power by any means he can devise. Christopher Hope is, however unwittingly, stepping in to the kind of role played Stateside by hosts at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Justice is slowly but surely catching up with Trump; something similar may yet happen to Bozo.

The Prime Ministerial career of Boris Johnson is dead. Morte. Our free and fearless press - not just the Tel - would like to pretend otherwise, because they were all so heavily invested in his remaining in Downing Street, as well as him being one of their own (that is, a crap journalist who talks well, but lies badly), but this is one episode of reality they cannot bend to their will.

Bozo the PM was for a time, but not for all time. Just rejoice at that news.

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Thursday 21 July 2022

Liz Truss - The Power Of SPLAT

And so the hopefuls in the Tory party leadership contest were whittled down to the final two: as desired by our free and fearless press, the Mail having been especially shameless in its campaigning, Penny Mordaunt did not quite make the cut, being overhauled by Liz Truss, who is now favourite to become our next Prime Minister come September. Why this is can be put simply.

The choice between her and Rishi Sunak, who was most popular with Tory MPs, will be made by the Tory membership. This is a group with an average age of 72. It is believed to be deeply racist, and as a result, Sunak, who has committed the heinous crime of being Not White With Malice Aforethought, will not enjoy their favour. But a Nice Gel like Ms Truss will.

So it is that Ms Truss’ every pronouncement will, from now until the Tories announce the winner, garner even more scrutiny than previously. And, within a short time of the final two being revealed to the world, the omens were not good. She Tweeted to her adoring public that, should she be duly elected, she wouldHit the ground from Day One”. Spot the missing word.

Having considered The Power Of Splat, Ms Truss then deleted the Tweet. But, as with so much that she does, the deletion was executed too slowly, something that could not be said for the speed at which her infamous Tory conference speech talking about Britain’s cheese deficit was wheeled out. Was she in hock to Big Wensleydale? How mature was her Cheddar?

Or would observers fixate on other aspects of the speech, like her assertion that she was off to Beijing to open New Pork Markets? By this morning, that had been forgotten, which might have been thought A Good Thing, except that what displaced the memory was her appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, where she had set out her stall on economics.

Could she cite one leading economist who endorsed her plans to borrow in order to fund tax cuts? She could. And the name she pitched was Patrick Minford. That’s the same Patrick Minford who was getting it wrong in the early 1980s, when he was at the University of Liverpool, and is still getting it wrong forty years later. At least he is consistent, but not necessarily in a good way.

The Vagina Monologue makes his choice

Naming Minford brought severely adverse comment, not least from John Spiers, who respondedLiz Truss just told Radio 4 that she wants to follow the advice of Patrick Minford, a fringe economist who said that for Brexit to succeed economically we would have to get rid of farming and manufacturing and live with much bigger wage inequality”. A crank, in other words.

Or even tone deaf economics, which may have been behind Chris Dillow’s musing thatSaying that Patrick Minford is your favourite economist is like saying your favourite singer is Florence Foster Jenkins”. Former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings added that Ms Truss was known as “the human hand grenade” because she blew up everything she touched.

He was also of the opinion that now former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was backing Ms Truss because she would foul things up so badly, it would enable him to make a comeback. All of that should make the client journalist class stop and think, but they will not: the Mail is already gearing up to shill for her, while slagging off Sunak.

The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press is so obsessed with turning politics into a game where they back winners (whether or not their choices do any good for those hardworking citizens they claim to champion) that they have lost sight of the grim reality of life in the UK right now. More strikes, spiralling prices, increasing poverty and homelessness, the NHS under increasing strain, and the rule of law beginning to fray - badly.

Liz Truss could throw out all the culture war rubbish and actually try to address the public’s concerns - in other words, show some real leadership. She could sack the less useful Bozo appointees, like Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Nadine Dorries and Suella Braverman, bringing in the less wacko Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) and Tom Tugendhat.

She could assemble a team of advisors to guide her away from yet more displays of stupid, and towards sensible and focused leadership. Or she could pretend she knows it all and make an even bigger Horlicks of governing the country than Bozo did, believing like so many in the Westminster bubble that it really is all a game. That is a truly grim prospect.

What will happen when she hits the ground on Day One? Splat or bust, folks.

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Wednesday 20 July 2022

The Day Climate Change Denial Died

Before the brutal reality of the last two days hit the UK - and, most tellingly for the London media class, hit that part of the UK beyond which they find it difficult to see - it was so very different. Hot weather? What was one of those? We should not be mere cowering snowflakes (an unfortunate turn of phrase, given the heat). It was just summer, and we had one of those every year. It couldn’t be worse than 1976. It was alarmist and unnecessary.

Typical of this strain of journalism, and yes, he really does put a strain on journalism, was a piece in the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine by tedious contrarian Brendan O’Forehead, who claimed it was being blamed on “rich people. It’s because of those wealthy elites with all their gas-guzzling vehicles and reckless holidaymaking”. But he knew better. “This infantile claim really is being made, and by supposedly serious politicians”.

Yeah, it was infantile! Science is infantile! Cos someone from the planet Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago, says so. And there was more. “Is anyone else tiring of all this green hysteria over the heatwave? There is something medieval about it. There is something creepily pre-modern in the idea that sinful mankind has brought heat and fire and floods upon himself with his wicked, hubristic behaviour”. Wrong. It’s called reality.

Even as Monday brought temperatures in the high 30s, the Daily Mail was ridiculing the idea that climate change had finally and irreversibly hit home. Placed next to Tuesday morning’s editorial, someone called Stephen Robinson had penned “Why can't the Met Office just tell us the weather, instead of spreading alarm and scolding us with doom-laden lectures?

This was all the fault of cancel culture! “Anyone who says anything that flies in the face of this doom-laden agenda is immediately shouted down … And our old friend the BBC could be relied upon to back them to the hilt”. The Met Office and any other body marked Public was severely criticised.

It doesn’t matter whether any of these bodies has the jurisdiction or expertise to opine on these matters. They are tolerated and bankrolled for as long as they parrot the predicable woke line”. Another one who does not understand what Woke means. But he did know that the experts were wrong, because he had lived in Washington, DC, and also South Africa. So he was right.

And then, yesterday, right on the doorstep of the right-leaning press and London-based climate change denialists, reality arrived. London was literally burning: the wildfires, previously of southern Europe, had arrived.

Graeme Demianyk of the HuffPost observed110 fire engines sent to blazes in Upminster, Wennington, Pinner, Southgate, Croydon, Dagenham, Hendon, Croydon and Eltham as major incident declared”. It was no longer the preserve of Spain and Portugal: in Wennington, east of London, a wildfire literally consumed a row of terraced housing, gutting the lot in short order.

Paul Brand of ITV notedSadiq Khan confirms that yesterday was the busiest day for London’s firefighters since World War II. 2600 calls versus 500 on a normal busy day”. And the New York Times reminded usMany areas of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain were 20 degrees hotter on Tuesday than historical averages on the same date during the late 20th century”. The resulting press volte face was something to see.

This demonstration of climate change in action was a more effective means of persuasion than all the reminders, all the data, all the warnings. The tragedy is that it has taken this long to get the London media class to see sense and, perhaps, cast adrift the clown car of climate change denial to which too many of their number had been so keen to hitch their wagons.

Also, whisper it quietly, our free and fearless press has now realised that climate change is more important than a mere leadership contest. It may already be too late, but at least the penny has now dropped, as hacks ponder the rows of burning houses, and realise it could be theirs next.

It was the day climate change denial finally died. Just rejoice at that news.

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Tuesday 19 July 2022

Campaign Against Anti-Semitism - REALITY

Previously appearing before my inspection when Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader, the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has in the recent past left no stone unturned in its burning desire to attack The Red Team, even complaining to the EHRC until the latter opened an inquiry into the claims made. But now some of those who had backed it are no longer on board.

Not after the CAA went after current party leader Keir Starmer over a video showing events from his trip to Berlin, where he met, among others, Olaf Scholz, now Chancellor and leader of Labour’s sister party, the SPD. The video looks uncontroversial, but for the CAA, Starmer visiting the Holocaust memorial near the Brandenburg Gate was too much for them.

It is a matter of decency and long-established convention in Germany that you never stoop to using the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as some kind of a prop. But to incorporate the Memorial as the backdrop for a political clip that does not even mention the Holocaust is an insult” they howled. But then something happened: their own supporters did not all agree.

Margaret Hodge, that most strident of Corbyn critics, took exception to the CAA’s attack. “Keir Starmer visited Holocaust memorial on trip to Berlin. Totally appropriate. I’m fed up of CAA using antisemitism as a front to attack Labour. Time to call them out for what and who they really are. More concerned with undermining Labour than rooting out antisemitism”.

If only she had said that earlier, eh? Also not saying much earlier, except to bash Corbyn, was former MP Ruth Smeeth. “[Keir Starmer] has a proud record in fighting antisemitism. He visited the Holocaust memorial and spoke about it at the time. This attack is not only wrong, but completely disingenuous and deeply unfair. And attempts to politicise something that simply shouldn’t be”. What if Jezza had made that video? What indeed.

Especially as Margaret Hodge had previously been made an Honorary Patron of the CAA, although as I pointed out earlier, this distinction has been shared by some who have benefited from racism, those who have endorsed racism for political advantage, and at least one individual who has a track record of forthright bigotry, but towards Muslims, which seems not to trouble the CAA.

It certainly didn’t trouble Tory MP Bob Blackman, who was one of those Honorary Patrons, until he got called out for it after he was caught “posting the piece from the anti-Muslim website Hardcore News USA”. This, he claimed, was an “error”. Not sure how you can accidentally go there.

All of which suggests the name of the CAA’s game was more Labour bashing than rooting out anti-Semitism: after all, they’ve done nothing about incidents of it in the Tory Party, and there have been several of those recently. The group’s credibility is finally being shredded - in one case by someone who they made an Honorary Patron. And someone from the Jewish Chronicle.

Who that? Lee Harpin, he of libel loss infamy, saw Ms Smeeth’s response and responded “Totally agree [Ruth Smeeth] - time organisations like [the] CAA come clean about their links to another political party”. And which political party might that be? It wouldn’t be the Tories, would it? And where does that leave the CAA’s complaint to the EHRC? Well, well.

This spectacle was not lost on some of those who have previously been dismissed for not going along with the CAA, like activist Heather Mendick, who observed “Interesting to see [Margaret Hodge] and [Ruth Smeeth] now agree with us 'cranks' that the Campaign Against Antisemitism makes bad faith accusations of antisemitism and uses these to attack the Labour Party. This is 'denialism' and should be reported to the Party's disciplinary team”.

Touché. The CAA is no longer a credible organisation. No surprise there.

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Sunday 17 July 2022

Bozo Parties While Britain Burns

Britain is set to experience record high temperatures in the next 48 hours, with high 30s in many areas, and for the south east, the promise of a high in excess of 40 Celsius, or 106 degrees for those still using the Fahrenheit scale. Warnings not to venture outside in such temperatures have been issued; many are expected to die as a result of the heat.

A national emergency has been declared. So it was no surprise to learn that a COBRA meeting was talking place; ministers would need to be briefed. Also not a surprise was that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had absented himself from that meeting, demonstrating once more that his priorities are, mainly, Himself Personally Now. His preferred divertissement was planning his farewell party at Chequers.

As the Observer has reported, “Boris Johnson was accused on Saturday of being ‘missing in action’ after failing to attend a Cobra meeting to discuss the national heatwave emergency following predictions that thousands could die in the coming days … He instead stayed at his Chequers country retreat, where he is due to hold a thank you party for supporters on Sunday”.

The paper also reminded us “On Friday, the Met Office issued its first-ever red alert warning for extreme heat - signifying a risk of ‘serious illness or danger to life’, even for healthy people. The UK Health Security Agency’s chief scientific officer, Isabel Oliver, yesterday pointed out that during a significantly cooler heatwave last year, 1,600 people died”.

Moreover, “Network Rail is advising passengers to use services only if ‘absolutely necessary’, and Londoners have been urged against travelling on Monday and Tuesday … Health experts also cautioned that older hospitals may become uncomfortably hot … Some schools will be closed altogether on Monday and Tuesday while others have shortened their day”.

It is looking like the claim, reported earlier this month by the BBC, that “A wedding party for Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie will no longer be held at the prime minister's country house following criticism of the venue choice. Newspaper reports said plans had been made for a party at Chequers in July”, was bunk. Bozo’s having his party, he’s billing taxpayers - you and me - for the privilege, and he clearly doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

And it's got worse since then

So, for all those who still claim that they “Back Boris”, the question has to be asked: just what part of that do you not understand? He doesn’t give a fig about any of you. You’re no better than more of those Useful Idiots.

All the excusing of his lying, unprincipled, deceitful and untrustworthy behaviour with claims like “they’re all at it”. No they aren’t. All the talk of Bozo working oh so hard for the country. As if. He wouldn’t be able to identify hard work if it jumped up in front of him and fly-hacked the SOB in the undercarriage. All the talk of him “getting the big calls right”. Yeah, right: his response to Covid was way too late, the vaccine rollout was done by the NHS (remember them?) and his Brexit deal is turning out to be a dud.

With a record-breaking heatwave due to hit the UK imminently, but without leadership, making sure the people understand that this is potentially deadly event, there is room for yet more of the climate change denial movement - the definition of an un-polishable turd if ever there was one - crawling out from under their rocks and whinnying “it’s no worse than Summer 1976”.

That is, of course, bullshit: temperatures then did not rise above the high 20s Celsius; now they are set to go a full ten degrees higher, high enough to exceed average body temperature and therefore induce heat exhaustion. It’s that serious. That’s why we need leadership, rather than Bozo weaselling out so he can plan and participate in another bout of gratuitous freeloading.

He should not remain in Downing Street, or indeed be allowed anywhere near Chequers, for a moment longer. Throw him out. And don’t let him back in.

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Saturday 16 July 2022

Tower Block Of Whoppers

Since the announcement by arguably over-promoted Culture Secretary (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries that Channel 4 was to be sold off, the impression has been given that the move had more to do with satisfying her vindictive streak and less to do with commercial sense. The broadcaster’s latest internal investigation only serves to reinforce that impression.

We already had the implicit admission by Ms Dorries that a disobliging but off-duty remark by the channel’s long-serving presenter Jon Snow had counted against them in her reckoning; then the Guardian reported thatIt emerged on Tuesday that the DCMS had tried to intervene to alter the wording of Channel 4’s annual report to fit its privatisation plans for the broadcaster”. Now has come news about another Dorries claim.

She had appeared before the DCMS select committee and claimed, apropos her participation in Channel 4 reality show Tower Block Of Commons, that the members of the public with whom she and other MPs had interacted were, in fact, paid actors, which would have made the show a fake. The Guardian again: “She told parliament she believed the hosts were planted by the show’s producers. ‘I discovered later they were actually actors’ she told MPs”.

She went on “The parents of the boys in that programme actually came here to have lunch with me, and contacted me to tell me, actually, they were in acting school, and that they weren’t really living in a flat, and they weren’t real. And even, if you remember, there’s a pharmacist or somebody that I went to see who prepared food - she was also a paid actress as well”.

At this point, the words of Gordon Brown to Damian McBride - “don’t. It’s the lie that gets you” - come readily to mind. Back to the Guardian. “The broadcaster asked the producers of the 2010 reality show Tower Block of Commons, in which Dorries was one of a number of MPs who went to live in deprived communities, to investigate the claims she made to the culture select committee in May”. The conclusion was not favourable to Ms Dorries.

The investigation “involved speaking with many of those involved in the making of the series, including contributors and crew, and retrieving and reviewing relevant documentation and footage, including 85 hours of raw footage filmed for the series. Neither Love Productions’ investigation nor Channel 4’s internal inquiries revealed any evidence to support the allegations made about the programme”. Oh dear, O Fragrant Nadine!

Also, “On Friday, Julian Knight, the chair of the DCMS select committee, said that it had asked Dorries for a response to the findings of the investigation … The committee has written to the secretary of state on this matter and invited comments from her as a matter of urgency. Now that Channel 4 and Love Productions have concluded the investigation, we look forward to receiving the secretary of state’s response, which we will then publish”.

That does rather depend on Ms Dorries being retained as Culture Secretary by whoever succeeds alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, which may not happen. But her reputation for being economical with the actualité has been reinforced, and it should be borne in mind that there had been a rather more immediate response to the claims she made.

Labour MP Rupa Huq, whose constituency includes the eponymous tower block, said this in the Independent in May. “Life in South Acton is tough for many and concerningly, I’ve had two separate emails from past constituents (now moved on) claiming that their group of pals who participated in the show were 100 per cent genuine, including ‘the boys’ Dorries referred to in our committee as being ‘drama school students’”. Oh dear once more!

Ms Dorries had already been criticised for smuggling a £50 note into the flat where she spent some time during the series. The impression is given that she was portrayed by the show in a less than ideal light and bore a grudge about it as a result. Also, being a Tory Brexiteer, it’s always someone else’s fault. One thing, though, is not a matter of mere impression.

It is looking more and more as if the decision to sell off Channel 4 was made by a bad faith actor as part of a personal vendetta. So the least that should now happen - and it should be on the desk of whoever replaces Bozo on day one - is that the sell-off of Channel 4 should now be abandoned.

This kind of behaviour is what causes any residual trust in politics and politicians to vanish, never to return. And that’s not good enough.

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Thursday 14 July 2022

Penny Mordaunt - Another Tory Liar

She had the momentum, would be a new face in Downing Street, a clean break from the tainted and irretrievably discredited figure of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Penny Mordaunt had come a solid second in the latest round of voting for the Tory leadership. Sadly, we were soon reminded, the fresh new face was not so unlike the stale old one.

Penny Mordaunt. God help us

That is because Ms Mordaunt shares one key attribute with Bozo: the ability to talk well, but lie badly. A further common trait appears to be an inability to retract and apologise when presented with the reality of being bang to rights. One example of the genre was her misleading the Fire Brigades’ Union.

As FBU News noted back in 2015, Matt Wrack had been less than totally impressed by her. “She gave firefighters a clear guarantee several times in Parliament last December. Many firefighters believed her, and so did MPs. It now seems she misled both the House of Commons and ourselves … Firefighters have been utterly cheated. Their pensions have been stolen on the basis of false information given to the House of Commons”.

It got no better as Ms Mordaunt joined the Leave side in the run-up to the 2016 EU Referendum, appearing on The Andy Marr Show™ and pitching the flat-out lie that not only was Turkey about to join the EU, but that the UK, then a member state, would be unable to veto the accession. She then added another lie to that by claiming that Turkey being an EU member state would mean the UK having a land border with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

She was offered the chance to retract those lies recently. She declined. The dishonesty continued during a visit to the USA, where one speech she gave suggested a potential problem with her grasp of reality. It included “The UK’s made its choice, to leave a trading bloc that is pushing a regulatory system on the rest of the world, and we’ve gone on the side of the table with those who believe in outcomes-based regulation consistent with our common law”.

There was more. “We’ve decided to take back our seats in international fora, to shape the reform agenda, to work to rebuild our capacity to do so, and to plug ourselves back into the global economy. That is our choice. And now America has a choice to make. How will she respond?

Derisive laughter, perchance? The idea that, as an EU member state, the UK was not part of the global economy is not one that stands serious analysis. After telling the US that it should be on our side against the EU, she concluded “because peace and prosperity don't happen by accident”.

Which is true, except that the peace and prosperity is what the EU brought within Europe. Alex Andreou noted that “Mordaunt is framing Brexit as a war and telling America it has a responsibility to be on our side and against the EU”. Delusional as well as dishonest. And we’re not finished on the latter.

As Disability News Service reported back in 2016, “The minister for disabled people misled a Commons committee about the government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap … less than two minutes after she began giving evidence”. She was told she had lied. A press release from the DWP confirming it was quoted to her. She dismissed the evidence with “The press release you refer to I have not been able to find”.

This matters: current front runner Rishi Sunak had a mare on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning under relatively mild questioning, Liz Truss, who came third with MPs, has been late getting her leadership campaign going, and Mordaunt is, it seems, firm favourite with Tory members. So if she makes the final two, it looks like she’ll be the next Prime Minister.

Which means swapping one delusional liar for another. We are so screwed.

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Wednesday 13 July 2022

Labour Ex-MP Sells The Pass

LabourList is a useful site for letting us mere mortals know the state of current thinking in the new-look Labour Party. It is also, sadly, providing clear evidence of a tendency to soundbite quack centrism to the potential exclusion of actual policy, and indeed, actual commitment to tackle the kinds of problems that affect an increasing number of people around the UK..

Phil Wilson. No longer an MP

That soundbite tendency was in full view as Phil Wilson declared that aright to food” campaign was not in fact a very good thing. Moving right along from the thought that he should have pitched the idea first to Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago, we are told “I can understand why we’re seeing campaigns for a right to food ... But there’s a note of caution to sound”. We should be concerned about moving to eradicate hunger?

But it gets worse. “We saw a Labour victory in Wakefield of which we can all be proud last month. Activists and campaigners came from across Britain to listen to voters – lifelong Labour voters, people returning to Labour, people new to Labour”. In other words, Labour threw everything at that by-election, something that could not be replicated at a General Election.

Wilson does, though, consider the cost of living crisis, and shows real understanding of what many families are going through right now. Then he moves along to “I want to see more money in parent’s pockets so they can choose the food and supplies that are right for their kids. I want a decent standard of living for everyone, not soup kitchens and food banks used as an excuse to keep benefits low”. And then comes the soundbite.

Advocates of a ‘right to food’ often point to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … Pulling food out of that to stand alone means reducing our ambition for our people and our country, not extending it. Prisoners are guaranteed food - the rest of us should have the power to exercise freedom of choice”. In the future when no-one is hungry, perhaps. NOT NOW.

Reducing our ambition”? REDUCING OUR AMBITION? People are hurting, with no immediate prospect of improvement, NOW. The sunlit uplands where freedom of choice may be exercised come AFTER the basics - like ensuring people do not go hungry. And the prisoner comparison is utterly, totally, bang out of order. Except that many in this country ARE prisoners - of poverty.

One hates to come over all Neil Kinnock, but here we have a former Labour MP - a former Labour MP - talking cheap soundbites in order to wave away real concern from a wide coalition of campaigners. It is just jaw-dropping.

So who is Phil Wilson? He was one of those who helped a young hopeful called Tony Blair get elected to Parliament in 1983. He took over as MP for Sedgfield after Tone departed in 2007. And he lost the seat in 2019, which I suspect will be Jeremy Corbyn’s fault, and not his. But he has got this one plain flat wrong. He should have this article pulled, say sorry, and think anew.

One look at the responses to the LabourList Tweet advertising the piece is all you will need to see the strength of feeling, the certainty that he has got it wrong, and the sense of sheer revulsion that someone in the Labour Party - that’s the Labour Party that is supposed to stand up for working people - is dismissing an anti-poverty campaign because it’s “reducing our ambition”.

This article may be effective in one way only - to turn people off joining, and indeed campaigning for, the Labour Party. It’s no good banging on about how wonderful the victory in Wakefield was, when activists are becoming disenchanted by a leadership that is seen as standing for nothing in particular. Activists who will be needed come the next General Election.

Activists who will recoil at crapulous soundbites like “reducing our ambition” and turn away from Labour. And that cannot be blamed on Jeremy Corbyn.

If Wilson’s soundbite becomes accepted as Labour thinking, Labour isn’t going to win next time. Lecturing the hungry about ambition? Get in the sea.

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