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Saturday 31 December 2022

The Troubling Adoration Of Andrew Tate

Much has already been said about the sudden fall from grace of supposed “alpha male” Andrew Tate, now in detention somewhere in Romania to the relief of all those who wished it had happened rather earlier, after he was very publicly given The Mother Of All Twitter Slapdowns by environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg. But maybe not enough about Tate’s fans.

Andrew Tate and another not-really-far-right-honestly pal

How the fall was precipitated can be put directly: Tate unwisely Tweeted at Ms Thunberg “Hello [Greta Thunberg] … I have 33 cars … My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo … My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s … This is just the start … Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions”.

Yawn, much? Ms Thunberg’s come-back contained the slapdown: “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com". OUCH! Tate could manage only a spluttered “How dare you”? But he later released a video response with a pizza box in the foreground of shot.

And then Romania’s finest rozzers nicked the SOB. Rumours spread that his location had been given away by the pizza box may not have been true, but that did not stop Ms Thunberg issuing another slap: “this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes”. Another OUCH!

Just to put the lid on it, the authorities in Romania successfully applied yesterday to remand Tate in custody for another 30 days. This from the BBC: “Tate was arrested alongside his brother Tristan on Thursday as part of an investigation into allegations of human trafficking and rape, which they deny. Authorities suspect the pair, along with two Romanian men, of running ‘an organised crime group’”. Rape, eh? Which brings us to why he was there.

Tate was accused of harassment; soon afterwards he rocked up in Romania, tellingly claimingI find it offensive that a police officer in England will stop me and refuse to take a bribe … I’ll tell you why; it's because he will sit there and go 'no, no, this is the law; law and order' and pretend that the law means something, and f*ck me over”. He finds upholding the law “offensive”.

And what's more, Ron ...

So he must be getting seriously offended now that he has discovered the Romanian cops are as interested as their British contemporaries in upholding the rule of law. And the 30-day detention means he stands accused of something serious. This would normally be his problem, and his alone, were it not for the way in which some of the UK media establishment have sided with him, or merely given him a platform to dispense his lack of wisdom.

Nothing showed in more stark focus the lack of investigative journalism deployed by our media class today than the adoration of Andrew Tate: not for them the initial caution, the questions about how he came about the wealth that funded the cars, the home in Romania, the private jet charters, and all the rest. No sirree, Andy just got the door opened for him.

Especially as the slapdown was administered by Greta Thunberg, a hate figure for any right-leaning UK media outlet, which means most of them. Not wanting the planet to burn is, for all those owners, editors and pundits, A Very Bad Thing Indeed. So bad that they will side with a self-confessed misogynist, someone who got binned off Big Brother when it was discovered that he had violently assaulted a woman. It was a Murdoch host leading the way.

TalkTV’s unfeasibly tedious breakfast show presenter Julia Hartley Brewer immediately sided with Tate, trilling “I'd choose Andrew Tate's life *every single time* over the life of a half-educated, doom-mongering eco-cultist. And the only car I own is a diesel Tiguan”. Sadly, there was more.

Pretentious? Who, moi?

I've deleted my previous tweet that mentioned Greta's autism because - although I only referred to it because she states it in her own Twitter biog - people decided to take offence at a fact. Even though they had no problem with this woman calling a man ‘small dick’. Yawn”. Ms Hartley Dooda wants the world to know that she knows she’s offensive, but she’s not sorry.

And staying on the TalkTV theme, as recently as last October, Tate was interviewed by the host of the channel’s obscenely expensive flop The All-New Percy Moron Show. Only as the house fell in did Piers Morgan and his pals decide that sharing the video of the interview might not be such a wise move. The Murdoch empire and the far right, eh?

Those not convinced that Tate is part of the “far rightmight usefully consider his closeness to Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. Far right is what he is; our media class had no problem in giving him profile-raising platforms, or rush to his side when the going got tough.

Our media class and the far right. A troubling yet enduring relationship.

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Wednesday 28 December 2022

Piers Morgan Hack Mystery

And so it came to pass that the host of Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkTV’s overhyped flop The All New Percy Moron Show had his Twitter account hacked, to the considerable amusement of all those who not only wished it had happened rather earlier, but also considered the result to be an improvement on what had gone before.

While The Great Man’s colleagues in the media class - one hesitates to use the word “friends” where Morgan is concerned - have been swift to make light of the incident, the Mail pointing the finger at someone from Somalia and plastering their face all over Mail Online, the possibility exists that someone from rather nearer home might have been involved.

For starters, the name of the account was briefly changed to “Piers C**t”; this was the name of a hack in a Viz strip about Baxter Basics MP, who had caught the mythical MP having a relationship with an under-age male. The all too obvious question is quite straightforward - just how big is Viz in Somalia? Because if it isn’t, then maybe the Mail should have investigated further.

But then, the Mail and investigative journalism are only occasional bedfellows, and only then when those labouring under the less than benign direction of the paper’s editor-in-chief, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, want to get some dirt on their targets. Otherwise, it’s recycled press releases, hatchet jobs and the dirge of obscenely overpaid pundits all the way.

Morgan now has control of his Twitter feed back, but the questions are mounting up: his password can’t have been too challenging a guess, or maybe it was too short and too straightforward. Then comes the information that may have been available to the hacker. Like the Twitter DMs which Morgan may have exchanged with his colleagues and sources.

Why, so the question goes, were his DMs not pored over and then released? But the thought should have already entered: just because we have not seen the contents of Morgan’s DMs does not mean they were not accessed. Maybe they were. So the possibility exists that some of them may yet be published, and without reference as to whether Morgan agrees. Or not.

Worse, there are two further scenarios, neither of which will make happy reading for The Great Man. One is those DMs being used to blackmail him: after all, Morgan is filthy rich, with his rumoured eight-figure deal to host for TalkTV making him a very obvious target. The other is the holder of the DMs eschewing such crudity and merely forwarding them to those Morgan has targeted.

Or, of course, their legal representatives. Like those acting for the Duchess of Sussex and her family. That would also have the potential to lighten Morgan’s account at Coutt’s considerably. Whatever happens, the potential outcomes are universally bad for The Great Man, and universally good for anyone who dislikes his rampant egotism, which is probably most people.

Piers Morgan got his Twitter back. But what might someone else have also got?

Friday 23 December 2022

Tis The Season, Once Again

 Christmas is upon us. But the season of goodwill to all men is short of goodness this year: instead, we have a Government, its entitled and rich allies, and most of the media class facing off against the kinds of people who keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed: nurses, ambulance workers, border guards and agents, rail workers, postal workers, all are engaged in industrial action.

The only difference between this winter and that of 1978-9, the latter so often used as a stick with which to beat the left, is that those emptying bins and burying the dead have yet to join in. Give them time; the Tories, backed by our free and fearless press, are deploying falsehood and misinformation while refusing to meet justified pay demands. They are the ones who are out of touch.

And this is only the beginning: Brexit, the subject which even broadcasters are exceedingly unwilling to discuss, has hobbled the economy, and will hobble it yet more. Like a slow puncture, its initial effects seemed trivial but, over time, are becoming worse. The response of the Government and entitled class is to deflect - look over there at refugees, those of insufficient respect for the monarchy, Trades Union leaders, public figures who dare put their heads above the parapet, and of course Haz’n’Megs.

It isn’t working. Twelve and a half years of increasingly inept economic management means the UK is becoming poorer relative to its nearest neighbours. Many who were promised that leaving the EU would bring freedom see only less of that freedom. They see less of the promised prosperity. And they see that the claim of more cash for the NHS was a flat-out lie that those formulating it had no intention of honouring.

The UK is not the only country to suffer strikes at Christmas. But it is the only one to experience the perfect storm of increasing poverty, anger, desperation, and the sure and certain knowledge that many who believed the unappealing convocation of corrupt and dishonest politicians at the time of the EU referendum now know they’ve been had.

Meeting the various pay demands would cost far less than the Tories and their press pals pretend. It would also, whisper it quietly, help the economy to recover, as most of that increased income will be immediately spent. The Tories, long believed to be the party of economic competence, are so short of economic competence that they are unwilling to take a course of action that may even ameliorate their lack of popularity.

There may be, for some, a brief feeling of euphoria on reaching Christmas without running out of money. But the hangover, exacerbated by steepling energy bills and the rest of Winter still to come, will make the aftermath feel so much worse. And there will be more strikes, more unrest, more poverty, and ultimately more adverse reaction to a political and media class that has failed us all.

Have a happy and peaceful Christmas. But don’t forget those who can’t.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Clarkson - Getting Away With It

 And so it came to pass that severely adverse comment was passed on Jeremy Clarkson’s viciously misogynistic attack on the Duchess of Sussex. Colour me not even slightly surprised, and even less surprised that, ultimately, the SOB has got away with it. Ah, the cancel culture that, for so many of those in the favoured part of our media class, does not exist.

Clarkson has friends. He is sufficiently protected from the kinds of sanctions that might be expected to befall those in The Real World. He merely needed to tell the world that he was “horrified”, belatedly get his pals at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun to discreetly take the offending column offline, keep Schtum for a while, and that would be that. No need to even apologise.

That Jezza was going to have his arse wiped, and very few questions asked, became apparent last Sunday morning when Sun editor Victoria Newton was on the panel of the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg show. The host would have had to have been beyond irretrievably inept not to know about the Clarkson column, but did not mention it. Not even a peep.

Instead, Ms Newton was given unchallenged prime time to tell viewers how nice her paper had been to Haz’n’Megs. Whether it is fear of retribution from the Murdoch mafiosi, or part of the Beeb seeing serious investigative journalism in the distance and moving in the direction of away, it’s not good enough.

And spare me the drivel about calling out Ms Kuenssberg being sexist or an attempt to start a pile on. It was a craven and unforgivable failure of her duty to speak truth to power. And she was not alone in this regard.

A five-figure number of   plaints about Jezza’s column was submitted to press non-regulator IPSO. That’s a lot of hopeful souls, all of whom will be disappointed at the eventual result: IPSO will “consider” them all, decide that it’s just an “opinion column”, like all those Littlejohn rants full of incitement and untruth, and dismiss the lot.

More than 60 MPs, from across the political spectrum, have voiced concern about the Clarkson piece; they, too, will be disappointed. We know this as the top brass at ITV has already said that, whatever their opinion of Jezza’s, er, opinion, he will remain as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? So many willing arse-wipers, so much circling of the wagons.

Like Littlejohn over Lucy Meadows, like Giles Coren mocking Dawn Foster after she died, and, let us never forget, like the Sun over Hillsborough for so many years until the Cosa Rupra fancied their chances getting back those sales on Merseyside, the media class will close ranks. Clarkson effectively incited not just hatred, but also humiliation and violence, against a well-known woman, and he has now got away with it.

Did anyone expect any other outcome? After all, Jezza got away with using the N-word while still at the BBC; he only got sacked after violently assaulting and racially abusing a member of the Top Gear production staff. And the Sun ran an unrelenting and vicious campaign against the show and his successor.

Anyone still not sure that our free and fearless press is out of control, and that Haz was right when he said that the campaign against Megs would only end when she was dead?

It is, and it won’t. Power without responsibility, as ever.

Sunday 18 December 2022

Jeremy Clarkson Is Unwell

Obsession can eat away at the soul. When coupled with hatred, jealousy and creepy misogyny, and actively encouraged by our free and fearless press, it may give its author a feeling of wellbeing, invincibility even, but the fact remains that if someone outside the public eye were airing such views, the cops would be visiting them to suggest they pursue other interests.

I assembled what remained of my credibility, took careful aim ... and shat all over it

So who has been exhibiting all the above attributes? To no surprise at all, another of those who dispense punditry in the pages of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, and to even less surprise, the target is the Duchess of Sussex. Step forward Jeremy Clarkson, sacked from the BBC for gross misconduct - violently assaulting a producer - with a side order of racist bigotry.

Jezza has used his latest Sun column to tell anyone not yet asleep that “WE all know in our heart of hearts that Harold Markle is a slightly dim but fun-loving chin who flew Apache helicopter gunships in Afghanistan and cavorted around Las Vegas hotel rooms with naked hookers. But then along came Meghan, who obviously used some vivid bedroom promises to turn him into a warrior of woke”. He means Harry. Whose name is not Harold.

Sadly, there is more. “And now it seems that she has her arm so far up his bottom, she can use her fingers to alter his facial expressions. I actually feel rather sorry for him because today he’s just a glove puppet with no more control over what he says or does than Basil Brush”. Laugh? I thought I’d never start. But then he goes full sick obsessive misogyny. And hatred.

Meghan, though, is a different story. I hate her. Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level”. In case you missed that, he says Megs is worse than a mass murderer. “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her”.

Jeremy who?

Could it get worse? Don’t ask. “Everyone who’s my age thinks the same way”. They intercoursing well don’t. Worse still, that column was passed as fit to publish by a whole series of editors, and indeed would have been signed off by News UK’s lawyers. Worse than that, there is no comeback via press non-regulator IPSO. It’s an “opinion column”. FREEZE PEACH!

But that is not the whole story. Jezza’s rant was published after he had broken bread with the Queen Consort earlier in the week. We know this as the Mail’s Richard Eden, another of the bottom-feeding creeps whose sole status is their alleged Royal “expertise”, penned a gushing article on a lunch to which Camilla and a raft of C-Listers were invited last Wednesday.

Camilla's VERY glamorous private party: Dame Judi Dench, Piers Morgan, Claudia Winkleman and Jeremy Clarkson join Queen Consort at star-studded Mayfair lunch as she proves Meghan isn't the only royal with pulling power” tells the headline, claiming an “exclusive”, perhaps because no other paper was bothered with a gathering of mainly minor Slebs. There was more.

The glitzy event at the Michelin-starred restaurant, owned by Angela Hartnett, was hosted by Ewan Venters, the former head of royal grocer Fortnum & Mason … The event came just hours before Harry and Meghan's second instalment of their Netflix docu-series - which saw the Duchess of Sussex boast of a text from Beyoncé as the megastar offered her support”.

Look readers, it's trending!

And there on the same webpage is Mail Online listing Clarkson’s slice of creepy misogyny under “Trending”, with no critical comment. It’s what John le Carré’s fictional spymaster George Smiley might have termed “an unfortunate chain of events” - Jezza lunches with someone the Sussexes appear less than totally keen on on Wednesday, creepy column appears on Saturday.

Moreover, Clarkson and the Sun’s editorial staff have, by allowing this vile screed to see the light of day, underscored everything that Megs has said about the hatred emanating from our free and fearless press. Anyone who doubted the honesty and accuracy of her words will have been put straight by Jezza and his editors. The opposition has come running to her rescue.

Now watch to see who fails to condemn that column. That will prove yet more informative as to who is cool with creepy, obsessive misogyny. Sad but true.

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Saturday 17 December 2022

Sussexes - Clueless Press, Free Publicity

If ever evidence was needed to back up the suggestion that the sad and desperate convocation of bottom-feeders within our free and fearless press known otherwise as Royal correspondents was light on actual facts, but good at creativity when faced with a blank sheet and a deadline, the past week’s tirades against Haz and Megs has brought it in bucketloads.

Led by the Murdoch and Rothermere press, against whom Harry has taken legal action which looks like it will prove expensive, and not for him, the level of bile aimed at the Sussexes for the heinous crime of making their own way financially and taking part in a Netflix documentary series has been ramped up to the max, starting with last Sunday’s Mail on Sunday.

As couple reveal wedding night photos to plug their next Netflis bombshells … HARRY AND MEGHAN ARE TOLD: STAY AWAY FROM CORONATION” thundered the front page headline. The MoS was keen to stress that this wasn’t any old invention, but was backed up by “A coalition” of senior figures.

Then, as trailers for the second tranche of three Netflix documentaries were released, and the content of those shows became widely disseminated, the abuse really kicked in. Yesterday’s Daily Mail frothed “After Harry’s savage onslaught on William and King Charles … DIGNITY IN THE FACE OF TREACHERY”, with a photo of the Waleses attending a carol concert.

The Murdoch Sun, using the same Wales family photo, rather let itself go: “Harry lays into ‘screaming’ Wills … He calls father The King ‘a liar’ … He has gall to demand apology … But The Firm put on a united front … THE TRAITOR & THE DUTIFUL”. Shouting TRAITAH at someone who has served his country as Haz has is not clever. Especially given today’s U-Turn.

For some reason, the Sun has sat this one out: perhaps the all too obvious volte face would have alerted readers to the lack of veracity in Friday’s welter of abuse. It has been left to the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph to tell “Sussexes will receive invite to Coronation … Royal family will not respond to calls for titles to be stripped in bid to retain ‘dignity’”.

And the Mail, having just inflated an otherwise anodyne Netflix documentary to the status of a “savage onslaught” and whined about “treachery”, now agrees. “EXCLUSIVE: Why Meghan’s STILL invited to Coronation” it admits, although the claim of exclusivity is clearly misleading. This, whisper it quietly, is not merely the Mail and MoS disagreeing with one another.

No, it is an all too clear illustration that all those obscenely overpaid Royal “correspondents”, “experts” and indeed “editors” don’t have a Scooby Doo most of the time. What they do know - as Peter Hunt, who dispenses punditry on constitutional and Royal issues, Tweeting after seeing those Friday front pages, has told - is that “Prince Harry is taking legal action against the publishers of the Daily Mail and the Sun. (And also the Daily Mirror)”.

Not only that, the attention given to the Sussexes and their docu-series has been very good for business: as CNBC has reported, “‘Harry & Meghan’ becomes Netflix’s biggest-ever documentary debut … ‘Harry & Meghan’ racked up 81.55 million viewing hours globally in its first week of release, Netflix said Tuesday … The show appeared in the Top 10 TV list in 85 countries, including ranking number one in the U.K.” Do go on.

The series, which Netflix billed as an ‘unprecedented and in-depth’ documentary, appeared in the streamer’s Top 10 TV list in 85 countries, and ranked number one in the UK … By comparison, season five of ‘The Crown,’ now in its fifth week of release, recorded 18.9 million views over the week”.

There is more. “‘Harry & Meghan,’ which was directed by Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus, marks one of a series of programs the Sussexes are producing under a commercial deal with Netflix … Their production house, Archewell Productions, is due to release another Netflix series, ‘Heart of Invictus,’ in 2023”. Perhaps our free and fearless press would like to bad mouth that, too.

Had the Murdoch and Rothermere press said nothing about the Haz and Megs Netflix show, those viewing figures and hours would not have been anything like that good. Even worse for the press, some of those viewing hours have been contributed by their own Royal “experts” tuning in to binge watch the series just so they can then slag it off.

Clueless and counterproductive press. So Netflix never had it so good.

Friday 16 December 2022

Rees Mogg EU Corruption Hypocrisy

Another eminently missable edition of the BBC’s supposedly flagship political debate show Question Time came and went last night, briefly enlivened by an attack from the member for times long past Jacob Rees Mogg on the hated European Union, which he declared to be corrupt, having previously declared it to be a threat to democracy. Democracy is a threat to democracy, eh?

Rees Mogg was telling the audience of the benefits of Brexit, which, if he had been totally honest, would be a mercifully short exposition, but he could not resist the temptation to chuck in a little abuse to bolster his rather flimsy case. He decided to call out the EU for something he has little room to talk about.

What are the advantages [of Brexit]? The basic advantage is democracy [someone forgot European Parliament elections]. You now decide how you are governed. Your votes cannot be overruled by a cabal in the European Union, and a corrupt cabal in the European Union … huge amounts of money that have been paid out in the European Union in bribes”. There was more.

Is that how we want to be governed? By a corrupt, crooked European Parliament? Or do we want to make our own laws on your votes? That is the fundamental principal basis. And then what flows from that? Well, there are things that are already passing through Parliament, so we’re having a massive reform of financial services regulation”. And on he went.

So let’s consider what Rees Mogg was talking about: this from the Guardian tells “The European parliament has been rocked by the biggest scandal in its history after Belgian prosecutors announced they had charged four people with corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation, as part of an investigation into attempts by a Gulf state, named by Belgian media as Qatar, to buy influence in the assembly”. Do go on.

The European parliament has voted to strip a Greek MEP implicated in a bribery and corruption scandal of her role as one of the body’s vice-presidents. MEPs voted by 625 votes to one, with two abstentions, to remove Eva Kaili as one of the parliament’s 14 vice-presidents, following a decision in favour of the move by the assembly’s senior leaders”. There was more.

Kaili is one of four people charged … She has been remanded in custody and will be brought before a judge on Wednesday … Kaili has been expelled from the European parliament’s Socialists and Democrats group and Greece’s Pasok party, and Greek authorities have frozen her assets”.

And more. “An MEP from Cyprus’s governing Disy party has claimed that Kaili approached him to amend a highly critical European parliamentary report on LGBTQ and other human rights in Qatar”. So let’s get this straight: one MEP is implicated in a corruption scandal. She is stripped of her vice-presidential status, arrested, remanded in custody, and expelled by her party.

Moreover, as the BBC has reported, Ms Kaili failed to appear at that hearing last Wednesday, and so has remained in prison. One flaw in the Rees Mogg exposition is immediately apparent: we only have one MEP implicated in the scandal, which makes his “corrupt cabal” claim difficult to stand up.

Nor can the whole European Parliament be thus described, given there are 704 other MEPs not implicated. Nor can The Moggster point to any of those huge amounts paid out in bribes, which suggests the European Parliament is somehow involved in this activity, which it is not. Nor will he back up his claim about UK voters’ preferences being “overruled”, because they never have.

Worse for Rees Mogg, this is a case of asking the kettle what colour the pot happens to be. Has he not heard of the infamous VIP lane for PPE procurement? Maybe he is unfamiliar with the name of Baroness Mone? Or perhaps he missed that £37 billion spaffed up the wall, to borrow the characterisation of disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, on a test and trace system that somehow didn’t?

Worse still, none of the above, nor any of those donations to Tory party funds originating from outside the UK, nor the ennobling of the son of a former KGB spy by Bozo the clown, have been, or seemingly will be, the subject of civil or criminal sanction - unlike the scandal unearthed by Belgian authorities where the suspects are already in jail or subject to electronic tagging.

Jacob Rees Mogg is full of shit. But you knew that already.

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Wednesday 14 December 2022

Mick Lynch And Sun Hypocrisy

Strike action in pursuit of pay that enables workers to put food on the table and heat their homes has been joined by more and more of those workers, and has, in the case of the rail industry, been intensified to the extent that today sees a second consecutive day of strikes, with two more days of them on Friday and Saturday. There will be more over Christmas.

Rich people are being inconvenienced AND IT'S NOT FAIR!

Support for the rail strikes does not appear to be waning: indeed, after the Government was exposed as working behind the scenes to stop improved pay deals being put to workers’ representatives and attempting to impose unworkable conditions as part of any deal, the mood among those taking action appears to be hardening. But for some, this cannot be admitted.

Which brings us to the machinations of our free and fearless press, and more specifically that part of it controlled by foreign billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Here, the obedient inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have finally cracked under the inconvenience they have suffered as a result of RMT members striking, and have launched a barrage of spite at that union’s leader.

Mad RMT Mick Piles On Misery … He pockets £84k-a-year plus perks … BUT he’s losing public sympathy … He’s losing his members £5,000 … He’s losing our economy billions … He’s even losing his own rag … YOU’VE LOST IT LYNCH” howls the headline, the supporting rant being co-authored by the paper’s alleged political editor, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole.

Behold the cream of the press establishment

What colour is the pot, kettle Cole? Even though he wouldn’t recognise decent journalism if it jumped up in front of him and fly-hacked him in the undercarriage, Master Cole is not going to be trousering anything as trivial as £84k. He’ll be well into the six-figure bracket. And the rest is speculation and mere invention (Lynch didn’t lose his rag, except in Sun hacks’ imagination).

But let’s hear what the former alumnus of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog has to tell his unfortunate readers. “MILITANT [scary leftie word? Check!] Mick Lynch lost his cool ­yesterday [lying] as it emerged rail workers are losing up to £5,000 pay [a figure which includes the number Zero] for his strikes [no. Strikes voted for by RMT members]”.

Do go on. “The £84,000-a-year union chief brought Britain’s trains to a halt [no he didn’t. His members voted to strike] amid plummeting support from the public [lying. The BBC reports support for rail strikes is unchanged in the past fortnight] and RMT members [no citation, nor will there be] for the Christmas chaos costing the economy billions [no citation. No investigative journalism]”.

Mick Lynch - demonised for doing his job

We are shown an image captioned “Walkouts will continue on Friday and Saturday, with two more 48-hour strikes in January”. But the trains in that photo are not part of any active fleet: they are stock that has been withdrawn from service and stored (the pairs of InterCity125 power cars at the right of the image are the dead giveaway). Usual Sun attention to detail, then.

But Master Cole is not finished yet. “Rishi Sunak told [he’s not in a position to instruct Lynch] Mad [mental health smear? Check!] Mick - who lost it twice live on air [lying] - to cancel the walkouts and not ruin Christmas. As offices parties [sic] were scrapped, and bars and pubs left empty, the RMT hardliner [demonisation? Check!] was urged by the PM not to ruin ‘a ­precious time for all of us’”. Sun hacks are being inconvenienced! This is serious!!

Have another go. “Rishi Sunak also urged Mr Lynch and his mob [demonisation? Check!] to ‘think carefully about their next steps’ … And he turned the screw [no. Just no] by noting support among members declined significantly compared to May’s first vote for strike action [see above]”.

Settling the action will not move these trains. They have been withdrawn from service

It’s good of Master Cole and his pals to let us know that they are suffering inconvenience as a result of strike action. But the obscenely overpaid propagandists of the Murdoch mafiosi show that they do not care about those struggling to put food on the table, or heat their homes during the current cold snap. They only care because they got inconvenienced.

Otherwise, they couldn’t give a stuff about those less well off then themselves. Today’s Sun front page is typical of the establishment class telling workers - you know, those who actually contribute to the economy - to know their place and do the bidding of the Government in which the Murdoch droids have invested the last dregs of their credibility.

The press doesn’t care about actual workers. But you knew that already.

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Tuesday 13 December 2022

Climate Change - Now We’re Finding Out

One benefit to our free and fearless press from its saturation coverage of anything that emanates from the general direction of the Sussexes and their supporters is that rather less space is left to cover issues those press people would rather not talk about. And, given their lamentable record on the subject, climate change is something they definitely don’t want to talk about.

Anuncie Aqui in Algés, or maybe not (image from @SezDev on Twitter)

After all, the proliferation of climate change denialism published by them, presumably covered by the catch-all excuse of FREEZE PEACH, is well known. So while the UK freezes, they can tell readers that this is something that really isn’t happening, while just ignoring events in southern Europe that confirm the exact opposite. First, a little meteorology for everyone.

A large mass of cold air coming out of the near continent not only makes it cold for us, it tends to force weather systems coming off the Atlantic around it, and usually to the south. This happened at the end of 2008, when Spain and Portugal had some seriously wet weather around Christmas and the New Year, while the UK froze. Now it’s happening again, with worse results.

Again, the UK freezes, and again, the weather systems pass to the south. They make landfall in western Portugal, so it should surprise no-one that the first big city they encounter, Lisbon, is on an Alerta Vermelho, after another night of intense rainfall flooded out homes, shops, bars and restaurants, and put the city’s buses and trams out of action (Reuters report HERE).

The central Baixa area is off limits; the inundation has affected some areas for the second or third time; commuting is being discouraged; even access to the Ponte 25 de Abril has been subject to closures. That flooding began last month, when the Alcântara area was hit by a mini-tornado, flooding streets and sweeping away cars. There was more in early December.

Areas further west, such as Algés and Oeiras, have had flooding, and Alcântara has now been hit again. And what’s worse is that the weather is not done yet: there will be at least one more night of wet mayhem. Worse still, this comes after a year of almost unremitting drought across the Iberian peninsula. The rain has all come at once, which may not be A Good Thing.

How will reservoirs, dams and river catchments be replenished if much of what falls from the sky sheets off and returns swiftly to the sea? How will farms, and indeed all those vineyards, make use of downpours which are more hindrance than help? And what about the now mammoth task of clearing up all the debris and damage? Also, it’s not just about one country.

The intense rain from last week has moved east, causing disruption to southern France and much of Italy. Last night’s downpours are likely to do likewise. Some in the UK may cheer on our ability to sit this one out, but it will only be a matter of time before there is another spell of rain able to flood out the likes of the Thames and Severn Valleys, or Somerset Levels.

You can see variously graphic examples of the flooding and its aftermath HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Eric Holthaus, one climate change campaigner who clearly believes in telling it like it is, has been quoted as warning “We have left the era of fucking about and entered the era of finding out”. Climate change is important. It is real. And it is here now.

Lisboetas who have already seen three iterations of flooding are not out of the woods yet: starting in the small hours, the heavy and thundery downpours will restart and go on all through tomorrow. Those weather systems, in turn, will move east and batter Spain and Italy. Remember this well when the next climate change denier is given a platform by our broadcast media.

Those deniers say it isn’t happening. We know better. Because we found out.

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Saturday 10 December 2022

Media Fiddles While UK Collapses

Our media class, and its increasing detachment from the world which the vast majority of its viewers, listeners and readers inhabit, has passed before the inspection of Zelo Street on many previous occasions, but never has it shown itself so utterly unable to understand the mood of the people as with the current perfect storm of inflation, unrest, and overall mood of despair.

Strikes? We got them. Was the press interested? Not yesterday, it wasn’t: instead, readers were served up the latest broadside of faux outrage directed at the Sussexes for having the audacity to make a series for Netflix as part of their determination to finance their own lifestyle and not sponge off We The People like the working Royals. Self sufficiency? How very DARE they?

Such is the desperation around the Fourth Estate that Haz’n’Megs will not play the game the press wants them to play, that the Mail used the dubious talents of four obscenely overpaid alleged journalists to heap sneering abuse on their targets. While those concerned cravenly carried out their instructions, the looming spectacle of strike action grew ever larger.

The Daily Brexit, still called the Express, dispensed with alleged star columnists and merely shovelled on the Kensington Palace briefing, that whatever the Sussexes said was “Slurs”, and it was “So Hurtful”. As the paper has been run on a shoestring since the days of Richard Desmond, it’s still whining this morning, invoking the Queen’s memory. Strikes? What strikes?

More upmarket, but nowadays not by much, the increasingly desperate Telegraph also invoked the Queen’s memory, decreeing that the Sussexes had landed a “direct hit” on her legacy. By talking about their story, not hers. In inevitable attendance was the over-promoted Camilla Tominey to claim that the series was “An unashamedly one-sided story full of half-truths”.

That would be the same Camilla Tominey whose name appeared on the by-line of a Tel article linking Megs to ISIS, via her support of the Hubb Community Kitchen and their cook book. The Mail titles lifted the story, which then featured in court papers as part of Meg’s lawsuit against them.

Like “the connection made between the Hubb Community Kitchen (in which the [Duchess] worked with those affected by the Grenfell tragedy as part of a cookbook project that became a New York Times best-selling book) and the al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (supposedly ‘linked to 19 Islamic extremists’) is at best a highly tenuous and deliberately inflammatory one”.

There was more. “The characterisation of these victims as being linked to terrorism in the same way as the [Duchess] is said to be supporting or endorsing jihadi terrorists through her participation in a cookbook for victims of Grenfell, is as false as it is offensive”. Ms Tominey was congratulated by the deeply unpleasant David Vance for her article.

And, worst of all, the piece appeared to be based on a single source - the Islamophobia peddling Henry Jackson Society. It was bad faith journalism at its worst. But it was unsurprising: since the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press took against the Sussexes, the barrage has been unrelenting, and has featured the same cast of sad, obsessive egos fighting for attention (Mic Wright has given them A Good Going Over right HERE).

But then, surprise, surprise, all changed this morning as the press realised - all too late for their own credibility - that those ordinary hardworking people it claims to champion aren’t interested in their righteous frothing about the Sussexes. Because the grim reality of a cold snap, combined with soaring energy prices, along with those strikes, has focused their minds elsewhere.

More rail strikes. More postal strikes. Ambulance drivers and nursing staff joining in. Border Force officers striking, meaning another hour or two getting through passport control for those willing to chance visiting sad, angry, increasingly poor and increasingly broken Brexit Britain.

A media audience slowly but surely realising that they’ve been had. Twelve years of Governments promoted assiduously by the right-wing press have enriched the rich while screwing over the rest of us. Added to that, Brexit was sold on a series of lies. Project Fear was in fact Project Reality.

On top of that, we are now learning how the Tories enabled their pals to fill their boots on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic. Who paid for those banking tens of millions from the VIP lane for PPE? We The People did. The Tories, egged on by their press cheerleaders, broke the UK. Worse, the current Labour opposition appears too frightened of its own shadow to back the strikers. That, too, is lauded by too many in and around the media.

Perhaps it is the cushion of financial security, that the cliff-edge of vanishing disposable income is for them never likely to come into view. Perhaps the falling circulation and diminishing viewing figures do not send a strong enough message. Perhaps they just don’t care. But soon they will.

This time, ordering those already impoverished by twelve years of Tory ineptitude back to work for the good of the rich will not wash. The economy is on its knees. Services are collapsing. Key workers have had enough. The press might be best advised telling the truth: the UK is a failing state.

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Friday 2 December 2022

Royal Racism - Press In Blind Panic

The secret of all good comedy - timing - has also become the secret of how to send our free and fearless press into the panic to end all panics. That timing need not be deliberate; it need only give the press the impression that it is, and the latter’s advanced state of paranoia will do the rest. So it was in the aftermath of the Buckingham Palace racism row last week.

Hardly had the right-leaning part of the press, for which read most of it, decided to cast Lady Susan Hussey as some kind of “cancelled” victim for her patronising and aggressive interrogation of charity boss Ngozi Fulami, than Netflix released a trailer for the upcoming series from the Sussexes, which promises to lift the lid on what really drove them out of Royal life.

The headlines demonstrate superbly just how blind the panic has become: the Sussexes, as LBC host James O’Brien has observed, are just better at the PR game than the Waleses, and they are also more interesting, more empathetic, more approachable, and what the press hates the most, they are more independent. They do their thing, whatever the press wants.

So none of the screaming headlines will make a jot of difference. Haz and Megs won’t be troubled by the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, demanding “HARRY, DO YOU REALLY HATE YOUR FAMILY SO MUCH?” and telling readers of “A BOMBSHELL trailer for Prince Harry and Meghan’s ill-timed [says who?] Netflix documentary”. What’s “ill-timed” about it?

Series begins next week, first trailer comes out five or six days beforehand. Looks like normal commercial timing. Unless you’re paranoid and desperate to defend the Royals - and what O’Brien correctly identified as a symbiotic relationship between them and the press. But the Express rant was mild by comparison to that coming out of the Murdoch Sun.

Prince & Meg’s Netflix Ambush … Harry film ‘sabotage’ of Wills & Kate … Bombshell clip timed to ruin US tour … KISS MEANS WAR” howled the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, making it up as they went along with such gems as “HARRY and Meghan reignited their war on William and Kate yesterday with an incendiary Netflix trailer”. False assumption, folks.

That assumes Haz and Megs dictated the timing of the trailer’s release. The Sun admits it when it tells “Royal aides believe they ‘deliberately’ timed its release”. The invention of parallel reality continues with “The … promo appears to threaten damaging new claims”. Meaning they don’t know, but they have to cast the Sussexes as the bad guys. As with the Mail.

Those labouring under the less that benign leadership of their editor-in-chief, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, parrot the same line as the Express and Sun, not that it’s been handed down to them, oh no. “Unflattering image of Kate … And weeping Meghan … Netflix trailer allies of William and Kate say is a declaration of WAR”. Thank you Tedious Maximus.

All of which will have the people at Netflix whooping with joy at all the free publicity, and maybe ordering up one or two more trailers. What will Haz and Megs make of the latest press attack, including the sneering headline in the Murdoch TimesSussexes ‘have become the Kardashians’”? D’you know, they may not be able to muster a flying foxtrot of interest in response.

After all, the best the right-wing press has managed this week is to excuse a clumsy and aggressive racist interrogation by a Royal courtier by waffling on about a lifetime of unblemished service, that the individual concerned is 83 (does that mean you can be more racist as you get older?), and that this is another example of that cancel culture. That really isn’t a thing.

Thus the giveaway: that same press is so obviously parroting the Palace line that it’s no longer bothering to cover up its sources. It’s another part of the establishment being defended by, er, another part of the establishment. Trying its damnedest to hand out punishment beatings to those who it believes threaten the continued place atop society of, er, the establishment.

Our free and fearless press needs to treat racism as racism, not “causing offence”, and with no age-related get-out clause. If the Sussexes want to do a documentary series for Netflix, that’s their business. And there are limits to how long the UK’s population can be gaslit. Think about it, press people.

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Thursday 1 December 2022

Royal Family Isn’t Racist … BUT

In a superb example of “There’s always a column”, the Daily Mail’s appallingly selfish pundit Sarah “Vain” Vine told readers only a week and a half ago that “If anyone deserves an anti-racism award it's King Charles, not Harry and Meghan”. Their award was about “the couple’s accusation of racism against senior members of the Royal Family”. But Ms Vine knew better.

Vehemently denied by the Prince of Wales and repudiated in characteristically diplomatic manner by the late Queen - ‘recollections may vary’ - it’s never been entirely obvious what form this so-called racism was supposed to have taken … insulting the work of Harry’s grandmother, it leads to the Royal Family suffering the vilest of accusations and abuse”.

The Royals didn’t do racism, right? And that, in the narrowest sense, may be true. But we now know that someone who, while not being Royal herself, was, as the late John Arlott might have put it, “very adjacent” to them, has been caught being not merely racist, but aggressive and patronising with it.

At a charity event last Tuesday hosted by Queen Consort Camilla, Lady Susan Hussey, formerly a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, met Ngozi Fulami, who founded charity Sistah Space, which supports women and families affected by domestic abuse. Lady Hussey had been helping to host events at Buckingham Palace. Ms Fulami recalled her exchange with Milady.

“Lady SH: Where are you from?
Me: Sistah Space.
SH: No, where do you come from?
Me: We're based in Hackney.
SH: No, what part of Africa are you from?
Me: I don't know, they didn't leave any records.
SH: Well, you must know where you're from, I spent time in France. Where are you from?
Me: Here, the UK.
SH: No, but what nationality are you?
Me: I am born here and am British.
SH: No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?
Me: 'My people', lady, what is this?
SH: Oh I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you're from. When did you first come here?
Me: Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s when...
SH: Oh, I knew we'd get there in the end, you're Caribbean!
Me: No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality”.

What could make it worse? Lady Hussey was not only Godmother to the Prince of Wales, but she alsowas reportedly directed by Buckingham Palace to help the Duchess of Sussex settle into royal life prior to and after her wedding to Prince Harry”. She had apparently claimed that Haz and Meg’s marriage would “all end in tears”. It was bad for the BBC, too.

What did we tell you?

Lady Hussey was married to the late Duke Hussey, former chair of the Corporation’s Governors. Duke Hussey was a Tory. He had effectively been inserted into the role at the behest of Margaret Thatcher, and his first act as chair was to inform then Director General Alasdair Milne that he required the latter to resign his post. Mrs T’s vindictive streak once again.

Lady Hussey has now been thrown under the bus; she has resigned. But the damage has not only been done, our free and fearless press knows it’s been done. Hence the Mail going in to bat for someone who was aggressive, patronising and, just in case anyone had forgotten, appallingly racist.

The headline on arch-creep Richard Kay’s apologia says it all: “Lady Susan Hussey will be mortified at causing offence with her remarks. But friends are accusing the Palace - which is extremely sensitive ahead of Harry and Meghan's Netflix documentary - of acting with indecent haste

Causing offence? CAUSING OFFENCE? It gets worse: “however unfortunate her comments, her sudden resignation yesterday for repeatedly asking a black British charity boss where she originally came from has stunned her closest friends and reopened the toxic debate about alleged racism within the Royal Household”. Don’t worry, it was only a “black British charity boss”.

After all, she was “Unflappable, loyal and discreet … among the handful of the late monarch's most trusted staff invited to serve the new Queen Consort Camilla … 'unjust' treatment of an 83-year-old widow who devoted her life to the royals … exemplary life of service and dedication to the monarchy”.

The Sussexes were right to call out racism in the Royal household. The right-wing press is plain flat wrong to defend it. This incident has shown just how out of touch the establishment class has become, whether it’s the courtier or media part of it. And it’s no good trying to excuse what happened: the press backed the wrong side. Now we all know: for them, racism is fine.

Except it’s not fine. It’s bang out of order. Did someone mention Leveson 2?

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Wednesday 30 November 2022

The Wonder Of Momentary Interest

England 3 Wales 0. And that, apart from an occasional caution on the possible shortage of free range turkeys this Christmas, a new Alzheimer’s drug, and fewer than half the UK population now identifying at Christian, is almost all the front page news on offer today. Momentary Interest has replaced reality as news. Which suits our free and fearless press just fine.

Why Marcus Rashford, who scored two of those goals, is especially well known - advocating for free school meals - is not told. That would mean the press having to admit that there is increasing poverty, and especially child and food poverty, across the country (the Express gives more prominence to Phil Foden, who scored the other goal, but they’re not racist, honestly).

The identity of hacks writing up what was supposed to be a sports story was also interesting: The Murdoch Sun’s front page lead, with its banner headline “RASH BANG WALLOP!”, is attributed to chief reporter Nick Parker, he of handling a stolen mobile phone infamy. Parker has also featured on Zelo Street helping the Murdoch mafiosi stoking hate against the GRT community.

So readers Look Over There, including those few hardy souls who, for reasons best known to themselves, tune in to Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”). So they won’t have seen Calvin Robinson, a host at the broadcaster, putting a photo of Enoch Powell in his Twitter bio, and quoting from Powell’s infamous 1968 “Rivers of Blood” Speech.

And, Looking Over There, they won’t see stories which even the Mail is carrying (but not on the front page) suggesting “Suella Braverman 'failed to act' on warnings about diphtheria outbreaks at migrant centres across mainland Europe … The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued an alert more than seven weeks ago urging governments to step up measures including vaccination against the infection

Nor will that vast majority of the population that has wedded itself to the motor car have seen the effects of rail operator indifference and ineptitude that leave those who commute by rail stranded, having to take taxis, and arriving home rather later at night than they had intended. But they will know that those taking strike action are the root cause of it all (they’re not).

Worse, they won’t know why people take industrial action, because not only has that been edited out of much press coverage of disputes in favour of demonising union leaders, but also that the press now has its own Squirrel! event to cover its tracks. England won - what’s your problem?

A winning national football team is like manna from heaven for most of the press, because most of the press backs the Tory party, and right now, all that the Tory party stands for is continuing infighting, a refusal to admit reality into any and all policy discussions, and a rather more serious refusal to take the blame for fouling up the economy on their watch.

Moreover, with most papers now just tabloids, a football photo can fill the entire front page on its own. Cuts out doing actual journalism, which, given decades of running down staff numbers, is another win. And not many churning out the football stories are willing to confront the obvious corollary: what happens when there is no more England football good news?

Because that would mean telling readers that there is a cost of living crisis - anyone who does their own shopping knows that a week does not pass when one or more items in the basket or trolley has increased in price, and often by non-trivial amounts - which does not affect all those obscenely overpaid star hacks and columnists. It would mean letting reality into the room.

They wouldn’t object to majoring on the “less than 50% identify as Christian” story from this morning, mind. Even though most of them would run a mile rather than behave in anything like a Christian manner. Like football, Christianity is something they love to talk about, but not practice.

But only football can be guaranteed to be the momentary interest by which the proletariat is diverted from its struggle. The country is truly screwed.

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Sunday 27 November 2022

Sunday With Laura K - Not Improving

Less than three months ago, Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, the much trailed and long awaited successor to The Andy Marr Show™, made its debut, and it was an inauspicious one, mainly because comedian Joe Lycett, by not taking the occasion as seriously as the BBC most likely intended, held up a mirror to the Westminster Media Bubble, and those inside that closed world did not like what they saw. So has the show matured, improved?

It's Sunday, it's 0900 hours ...

Sadly, it has not. And the impression is given that the Beeb’s management knows it hasn’t: otherwise, why would the BBC website carry, on its opening page, an item telling us “LIVE Harper and Nandy face Kuenssberg’s questions”? Is the Laura K show now being commodified in the same way as the latest outing for Strictly Come Dancing? Or is it just desperation?

Why there might be more than a little desperation is not hard to understand: the edgy aspect of panel guests who might react in, shall we say, an unpredictable manner has been swiftly excised, so today we got a Tory MP, the General Secretary of the TUC, and someone with their own show to plug. There would be nothing coming out of left field. It would be safe TV.

But it would be tedious TV: the only moderately interesting moment came not from Ms Kuenssberg, but from Frances O’Grady making, with some passion, the case for workers to be adequately rewarded for their efforts, especially those who work long hours for modest reward in and around the NHS.

We got Transport Secretary Mark Harper. Who he? He was tedious, the lines of questioning were tedious, and what was a nailed-on certainty was that his presence was not going to be balanced by an interview with Mick Lynch of the RMT, or Mick Whelan of the ASLEF. No, the balance came from Sunday morning politics show regular Lisa Nandy. Who was not in the studio.

The interview of Ms Nandy demonstrated superbly why the Laura K show might be shipping viewers: it was the usual utterly predictable litany of lame Gotcha questions, which anyone with brain plugged in and a hole in their backside instinctively knew that Ms Nandy would bat away without a problem.

Would Labour hand out inflation busting, or at least inflation matching, pay rises to nurses, rail workers, teachers and lecturers, and any other group now threatening or taking strike action? Would she stand on a picket line? What about the Single Market and Customs Union? What about Free Movement? How many houses would Labour commit to build? At least we’re no longer getting the ultimately trivialising “Can a woman have a willy?

... and the audience is suitably enraptured

You knew what Ms Nandy was going to be asked, even before the interview started. The only moderately interesting input from the panel, apart from the urging to understanding from Frances O’Grady, was that Tory MP Jake Berry was not coming out with guns blazing. There was no “yah boo lefties” from him, but instead, more circumspection, a more listening mode.

Otherwise, it was a singularly pointless hour’s television. There was none of the light relief one might have expected from the Marr Show in the form of human interest or entertainment news and interviews, or of course the musical interlude to close the show. And if there is so little point to it, the question has to be asked: is there not a better use of licence payer funds?

We are being told, for the most part, what the political and media establishment thinks of itself regarding the issues du jour. And it’s downright boring. Small wonder the new channels peddling what Jon Stewart called “Opinutainment” are finding a niche for themselves, albeit minor and as yet unprofitable. And the rest of BBC politics output is often little better.

The supposedly flagship debate show Question Time has been bedevilled by accusations of audience stacking in favour of right wingers, bias and poor handling of debates by host Fiona Bruce, and the over-representation of those Astroturf lobby groups and their hangers-on who are invariably described as from “think tanks”, rather than the hard libertarian right.

This matters: the mood among the public is slowly but surely darkening, as realisation dawns that living standards are going to get worse for the next two years - maybe longer - while across the Channel, EU member states just get on and continue their journey of steady economic growth.

The BBC needs to inhabit the real world. And make more worthwhile TV.

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Saturday 26 November 2022


The BBC report was unenthusiastic about the latest news from London’s Mayor. “London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is to be expanded to cover all of London, the mayor has announced, despite ‘overwhelming’ opposition. From 29 August, drivers of the most polluting cars will have to pay £12.50 a day to enter to the Greater London Authority boundary”.

There was more. “A public consultation found 80% of people in the affected areas were opposed the expansion of the zone. But Sadiq Khan says five million more people will benefit from cleaner air”. He added “there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs”.

No prizes for guessing what the Mail thinks about that. “'Will YOU pay for my new car, Sadiq?': Fury as London Mayor confirms ULEZ expansion comes into force on August 29 next year - forcing 200,000 drivers of older vehicles to pay £12.50-a-DAY just to 'drive five minutes down road’”. Do go on.

Motorists have been expressing their outrage at the prospect of having to pay thousands more a year to commute into London, as Sadiq Khan confirmed today that the ultra-low emissions zone will be expanded to cover all of Greater London from next August. Hundreds of thousands more drivers face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London's roads after the mayor announced he will expand the zone to boost air quality. It will now stretch more than 30 miles from Uxbridge to Upminster”. Well past Barking, then.

The Mail asserts “The ULEZ expansion is only the latest action in Sadiq Khan’s war on motorists”, but admits he has introduced “measures such as a £110million scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled people, small businesses and charities to scrap or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles. There will also be a major expansion of bus services”.

And there will no doubt be more of the why-oh-why brigade moaning “what about knife crime”? Look Over There. But the Mayor has one unexpected ally: an editorial in today’s edition of the Murdoch Times. “Big Smoke-Free … Sadiq Khan is right to extend the capital’s ultra-low emission zone”.

You read that right. “Dirty air is a killer. Every year an estimated 40,000 lives are cut short in Britain as a result of air pollution, costing the economy £20 billion in healthcare and sick days”. Is this a purely altruistic conclusion? “That is why The Times launched its Clean Air For All campaign”.

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't

Even so, the inmates of the Baby Shard Bunker are right: more than 9,000 people die as a result of respiratory disease in the London metropolitan area each year, and as the Times editorial notes, “of the estimated 4,000 premature deaths from air pollution in the capital every year, the highest numbers are all in ten outer boroughs now outside the ULEZ”.

Any names? “Bromley, Barnet and Croydon”. Ah, the London Borough of Bromley - the one that scuppered Ken Livingstone’s “Fares Fair” policy in the early 1980s. As with all those Brexiteers frothing about the possibility of the UK rejoining the Single Market and Customs Union, though, there is no excuse for the Tories playing yah-boo politics just to attack Mayor Khan.

And those wanting to Look Over There at knife crime - London had 133 homicides recorded in 2021, and just under 100 were attributable to “Knife or sharp implement”. That’s not to say there should be no action on knife crime, just to point out that the numbers for premature pollution deaths are larger.

The 70mph speed limit was unpopular. Mandatory wearing of seat belts was yet more unpopular. Drink-drive laws were, too, especially when the hated breathalyser was ushered in when the minister was a woman (Barbara Castle, for those not of A Certain Age). Banning use of hand-held mobile phones is highly unpopular. Parking restrictions are also unpopular.

But, guess what? Being able to taste the pollution isn’t exactly popular, either. Nor is the prospect of lives cut short by respiratory disease. That is all.

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