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Sunday 30 April 2023

Swear Allegiance? Yeah, Right

Next Saturday, the former Prince Brian will be formally proclaimed King in a Coronation ceremony, before thousands of invited guests and a TV audience which may not be as large, or as enthusiastic, as the Establishment and its more sycophantic promoters in our free and fearless press would like. The role of the monarchy is - rightly - coming under increasing scrutiny.

The UK has millions of citizens on or below the poverty line. Inflation, particularly for food, continues to rage. Brexit continues its long and inevitable journey from triumphant vote winner to national pariah, the shame of a nation conned into voting to make itself poorer. At such a time, the idea of spraying around £250 million up the wall for Brian and Camilla is a hard sell.

What more and more citizens may also be doing is looking at countries whose monarchies are on a rather smaller scale - Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark for instance - and even those that have, along the way, dispensed with Royalty, like Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Portugal, where the last but one King was assassinated, along with his son.

That event, along with the proclamation of the First Republic two years later, was against a backdrop of economic instability and poverty. Not that the grovelling press pack of the UK wants to consider such details: instead, today has brought a collective attack of gaslighting, but one which their audience may finally see through. We are being instructed to swear allegiance.

From the Sunday Brexit, still called the Express, telling us “KING’S SOLEMN VOW TO SERVE US ALL … Millions watching Coronation invited to pledge allegiance”, to the Murdoch Sunday Times, with “Archbishop will ask millions to pledge allegiance to their King … Coronation to feature ‘homage of the people’”, the message is clear. And the Mail on Sunday trowels it on.

In historic break with centuries of tradition that will turn Charles’ big day into the People’s Coronation … WE ARE ALL INVITED TO SWEAR ALLEGIANCE TO THE KING” thunders the headline. Who is he, Kim Jong-un? That creepy personality cult vibe, together with more fawning publicity shots of the Waleses, gives the unmistakable impression of an empty façade.

On goes the MoS: “For the first time in history, every citizen of the UK and all the other nations of which the monarch is head of state will be asked to 'make their homage in heart and voice to their undoubted King'. The trailblazing move will make the ceremony more of a 'People's Coronation', as previously only members of the aristocracy were called upon to make such a pledge”.

And on goes the creepiness. “The 'Homage of the People' is just one of the significant updates to the ancient ritual, which will see other religious faiths, as well as the Church of England, playing key roles. Female members of the clergy will also be involved for the first time”. How very modern, only 105 years after some women were finally given the right to vote.

For those who dissent from the North Korea tendency, the Mail has followed up with the typically threatening headline “How YOU can pledge allegiance to King Charles on Saturday: Millions watching ceremony on TV will be invited to join vow - but spoilsport anti-monarchy critics say they will refuse to join in”. Then comes a vindictive attack on Professor Priyamvada Gopal.

Not that it’s because she’s not white, of course - perish the thought! It’s just another of those sheer coincidences that see the Mail titles publish one bad faith tirade after another directed at the Duchess of Sussex, the papers employing a whole host of bottom feeding practitioners of yellow journalism to trash Haz and Megs while fawning sycophantically over the Working Royals.

Maybe some will join in and repeat “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God … God save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live for ever” as commanded. But while the member for times long past Jacob Rees Mogg gushed “It will be a brilliant expression of our fealty - every loyal subject will want to do this”, he misses the obvious: we are no longer subjects.

And so we no longer pay fealty. Moreover, more and more of those no-longer-subjects may look instead at the Coronation’s £250 million price tag, or the Observer warning “Rituals that people no longer believe in can easily come to seem problematic as well as ridiculous”, rather than obediently join in.

The monarchy was for a time, but maybe not for all time. That is all.

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Friday 28 April 2023

Murdoch - The Nature Of The Beast

Mr Murdoch, you must be the first Mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise”. So said then Labour MP Tom Watson to James Murdoch during a DCMS session on phon hacking at the late and not at all lamented Screws. Watson was pilloried for using the M-Word; we have since discovered that he was right. How right came into focus this week.

We already knew that a number of claimants, including the Duke of Sussex, Elton John, Sadie Frost and Liz Hurley had fired an opening salvo against both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. Now came the case against News Group Newspapers - the Murdoch mafiosi. They, too, wanted the claims against them struck out. As the charge sheet made for grim reading.

Not only was Harry once more present - this time he was joining by videolink from his home in California - but added to the claimant list was actor and campaigner Hugh Grant. As Harry did with the Mail titles, Grant made a point of appearing personally at the court. The Guardian had the details.

Hugh Grant has claimed the Sun burgled his flat and placed a tracking device in his car in an attempt to obtain stories about his personal life … The actor appeared at the high court on Thursday for a hearing which set out his allegations that the Sun also tapped landline telephones and hacked his voicemails”. Burglary. Bugging. Landline phone taps. And there was more.

In a witness statement to the court, Grant said: ‘My claim concerns unlawful acts committed by the Sun, including burglaries to order, the breaking and entering of private property in order to obtain private information through bugging, landline tapping, phone hacking and the use of private investigators to do all these and other illegal things against me.’” And more.

Evening all

Grant said that in 2011 his London flat was broken into, with the front door forced off its hinges but nothing stolen. He says the following day a story appeared in the Sun that ‘detailed the interior of the flat, including the signs of a domestic row’ … Grant said at that time he had no idea who had carried out the break-in: ‘I had no evidence that this burglary was carried out or commissioned on the instruction of the press, let alone the Sun.’” And more.

He was prompted to launch his latest legal claim after being passed information which ‘showed, for the first time, evidence that the Sun had targeted unlawful activity at me and my associates directly … I found it astonishing that the Sun carried out these unlawful acts against me at a time when I was preparing to give evidence to a public inquiry on press ethics’”.

He wasn’t finished. “Grant also alleges that during the 2000s the Sun employed private investigators to break into two properties connected to his film production company and his ex-girlfriend Liz Hurley. The actor claims these burglaries were carried out with ‘knowledge and approval of Rebekah Brooks who was editor of the Sun at the time’”. Which raises one prospect.

Ms Brooks, if NGN fails to have the actions struck out, is in the frame for a session on the stand. Remember that one of the reasons she got off the phone hacking charge last time was claiming she didn’t know it was happening. Anything that shows she did know it was happening puts her evidence to the phone hacking trial - and Leveson - in doubt.

Told you there was more to come

And here’s a belter of a coda: “He alleges that a senior reporter at the paper commissioned the ‘blagging’ of private information about individuals including ‘the child of a former prime minister’”. That sounds awfully like Gordon Brown’s second son and the Murdoch press revealing his cystic fibrosis - then claiming they got the information from a “concerned parent”. Hmmmm.

This is what Harry said about NGN: “how can anybody properly trust … a media organisation … when its senior executives and board cover up the truth … and then have the gall to try to ‘strike out’ people’s legitimate claims on the basis that they should have known they had a claim much earlier … when NGN has gone to such great lengths to conceal the truth?

There was more. “When they have the powers that they have, and where even the Police and the Government of the day are scared to hold them accountable or seek justice against them, they can truly believe they are above the law. And if they’re above the law, then it’s the general public and the country that suffers. It’s really that simple”. Hugh Grant had more.

I have invested a great deal of time in my campaign work for a better and ethical press … the defendant clearly considers itself above the law and is using the law now in a way I believe it was never intended, that is to further cover up and conceal what it has done … I strongly believe that cannot be allowed to happen and that what it has done must be brought to light”.

And remember - the idea that it only happens to the well-off and famous is for the birds, as countless victims of press abuse will know. It should have been no surprise to know that when the Mail titles were accused of appallingly bad behaviour, the follow-up against Don Rupioni and his clan would reveal yet worse goings-on. This time they should all face justice.

We may finally see what is creeping around under that rock. Stay tuned.

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Friday 21 April 2023

Dominic Raab - Shove The Excuses

So farewell then Dominic Raab, who has resigned his cabinet post, to the great relief of all those who wished it had happened rather earlier. This followed a report by Adam Tolley KC, and Raab’s assurance that he would resign if it upheld any claim of bullying against him. To be on the safe side, it upheld two claims. Worse, the conclusions were damning.

He acted in a way which was intimidating, in the sense of unreasonably and persistently aggressive conduct in the context of a work meeting. It also involved an abuse or misuse of power in a way that undermines or humiliates … On a number of occasions at meetings with policy officials, the DPM acted in a manner which was intimidating, in the sense of going further than was necessary or appropriate in delivering critical feedback, and also insulting”.

As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. Tolley was putting it mildly and diplomatically. There was a telling coda: “The DPM has been able to regulate this level of ‘abrasiveness’ since the announcement of the investigation. He should have altered his approach earlier”. That’s how mild.

That much is bad, but what is worse for those who remain in Government, and especially Rishi Sunak, is that Raab, like Gavin “Stupid Boy” Williamson, and Nadhim Zahawi of heated stables on expenses infamy, was allowed to resign and was not sacked. Hence Sunak is also diminished by his now former deputy’s fall. This the right-wing press has failed to notice.

Then another thought enters: perhaps they do not want to notice, given their craven support for the Tories. Nor, it seems, do they want to notice that their man has not even bothered to apologise. As Tolley notes, “He has not offered any apology, given that he does not accept that he has done anything wrong”.

Some across the media back Raab unequivocally: the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog quoted Raab’s no-regret resignation letter claiming “Ministers must be able to give direct critical feedback on briefings and submissions to senior officials, in order to set the standards and drive the reform the public expect of us … In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent”.

And concurred. “He’s clearly right, the sheer intransigence and inertia of the bureaucracy requires a minister to drive change despite the civil service”. So they don’t know what they’re talking about, either (no change there). The inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker claim that Raab was “SHAFTED BY SNOWFLAKES”. But LBC host James O’Brien had a caution on that one.

Everyone on the senior editorial staff at the Daily Mail will have witnessed or received a spittle-flecked ‘double-c*nting’ from Paul Dacre. Do bear this in mind when reading their coverage of Raab’s bullying” before reminding us “Boris Johnson is still trying to put Dacre in the House of Lords”.

Another media outlet that has ventured rather a long way up the Tories’ arsehole, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, gave Raab a platform to right the wrong he claimed to have occurred. Lewis Goodall noted thatRaab has written a piece for the Telegraph saying the British people ‘will pay the price for this Kafkaesque saga.’ He says ‘this precedent will set the playbook for a small number of officials to target ministers.’

Raab has since gone to the BBC and claimed to Chris Mason, and as Theresa May once said, I am not making this up, that “that ‘activist civil servants’ wanted to block the work of government with ‘passive-aggressive’ tactics”. Bullshit. Especially coming from someone whose record of ministerial accomplishment is not unadjacent to Sweet Fanny Adams.

It was left to Byline Times political editor Adam Bienkov to make the obvious conclusion: “That Raab’s behaviour has instead not just been tolerated, but actively defended by Sunak and his media supporters, tells us everything that we need to know about the rotten standards still dominating within this Government”. And the rotten standards of our right-wing press.

Dominic Raab was unfit for office. And he still is. Anyone say “by-election”?

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Thursday 20 April 2023

Braverman Briefing BUSTED

Nothing epitomises the weak and feeble client journalism practised by those in and around our free and fearless press, and their inability or unwillingness to interrogate their sources, than the obedient copying and pasting of briefings directly on to the front pages of national newspapers and promoted as truth. No analysis, no questions asked, no stopping to think.

And for the right-leaning part of that press, which means most of it, that means showing the FORRINS that we in the UK make our own decisions. Which brings us to the European Convention on Human Rights, which right-wingers find problematic, because for them, YOOMAN RIGHTS are A Very Bad Thing when it stops the Tories picking on those who are not white.

When the first attempt to deport refugees to Rwanda, on the grounds that they had arrived in the UK by irregular means, failed following intervention citing the Human Rights Act, the Tory right was incandescent. Suella Braverman, for some reason appointed Home Secretary by Rishi Sunak even though she had previously had to resign the post, would stop all that.

But here a problem entered: as the UK was a signatory to the ECHR, human rights claims could be appealed all the way to their being decided by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Which is ABROAD and FORRIN. The Brexiteer death cult that is the Tory right wanted a way to cut that out, even though it could not be cut out without leaving the Convention.

So any briefing from the Home Office claiming that the ECHR could in some way be bypassed, or rulings simply ignored, should have been taken with the largest available pinch of salt - and ignored. But in the looking glass world of the right-wing press, reality was not allowed to intrude this morning as the latest Braverman Briefing was taken as gospel - and given front page status.

The Murdoch Times gave the most prominent billing: “Judges lose power to block migrant flights … Tory rebels win concessions from Sunak on Rwanda deportations” is the headline, although Matt Dathan’s article goes on to claim “Judges will no longer be able to block migrant deportations … the Government has agreed to amend its Illegal Migration Bill”.

Remember the rider “Secretary Suella Braverman has made the following statement under Section 19(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act 1998: I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nonetheless wishes to proceed with the Bill”. So why no press scepticism?

Also, Sunak has confirmed that the UK will not be exiting the ECHR. Over at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, Charles Hymas is also not asking questions. “Braverman given powers to ignore ECHR” they tell, going on to explain “The Home Secretary is expected to be given ‘discretion’ to ignore Strasbourg injunctions, known as Rule 39 orders”.

In the Times, “Judges lose power” becomes “Judges will no longer be able to block”, and then in the Tel “given powers” becomes “is expected to be given ‘discretion’”. But the latter does come clean on why the briefing took place: “The move … is expected to head off a revolt by some 60 Tory MPs who have been demanding stronger action against the ECHR”.

The UK is a signatory to the Convention, and although one hates to come over all Neil Kinnock, there is a national newspaper - a national newspaper - talking about elected representatives “demanding … action” against it. The Tel article also claims that any legal action to block deportation flights can only proceed once the allegedly illegal migrant has been deported.

Yeah, right. Then comes the admission “Ministers hope to enact the legislation before the Summer recess”. So it might happen, but then again, it might not. Moreover, any decision using that legislation is highly likely to be contested, given that Ms Braverman has admitted that the Bill’s provisions may not be compatible with the Convention rights.

Copy and Paste client journalism is alive and well. But you knew that already.

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Wednesday 19 April 2023

Murdoch Cuts And Runs

It has long been the view of commentators, from the left to those few remaining on the right who are not down the rabbit hole, that Murdoch property Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) is not about news. It is a propaganda outlet, which at the time of the 2020 US Presidential Election was shilling for Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. Who lost.

The Donald could not, would not accept that he lost. Maintaining that he had in reality won, he blamed voter fraud, but there was none. He blamed the left, but this too was bunk. Then he blamed voting machines, which in the retelling had mysteriously switched votes from him to Joe Biden. This was not only untrue, it was preposterous. But that didn’t stop his supporters.

And that is where FNC came unstuck, pushing stories about voting machines which were not only untrue, but that their hosts knew to be untrue. Those hosts gave a platform to wacko conspiracy theorists like lawyer Sidney Powell, knowing all the time that she was lying. And many of those lies were aimed at one company - Dominion Voting Systems.

Ultimately, Dominion sued for defamation. The Murdoch mafiosi were their usual belligerent selves: they kept on lying about voting machines, while getting their lawyers to try and throw the case out. The case did not get thrown out. The discovery phase of the action made public a number of snippets which Don Rupioni would rather had not been made public.

Murdoch admitted he could have intervened to stop the lies, but equally admitted that he didn’t; FNC executives wanted to hold on to their pro-Trump and pro-wacko conspiracy theory audience, rather than lose them by telling them the truth; what the channel did in the run-up to the Presidential Election looked awfully like unpaid advertising for The Trump campaign.

The case should have come to trial this week. But on Monday, a 24 hour delay was announced. By Tuesday, it seemed that the trial would go ahead anyway. But then another delay was announced. Murdoch and his fellow media mafiosi had settled: Dominion would not receive the $1.6 billion they initially demanded in damages, but a lesser $787.5 million.

As the BBC has reported, “The deal spares Fox executives such as Rupert Murdoch from having to testify” before the real taking of the piss: “Fox said Tuesday's settlement in one of the most anticipated defamation trials in recent US history reflected its ‘commitment to the highest journalistic standards’”. FNC doesn’t have any “journalistic standards”.

What the Beeb also told was that “The Fox statement added without elaborating that the network ‘acknowledges the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false’ … Dominion chief executive John Poulos told a press conference the deal included Fox ‘admitting to telling lies, causing enormous damage to my company’”. That’s going to hurt.

We saw how FNC deals with reality. “The lawsuit said that the false claims were partly an effort to win over viewers who were angered by Fox's decision on election night to - correctly - declare that Mr Trump's then-challenger, Joe Biden, had won the crucial state of Arizona … Two of the Fox executives responsible for the Arizona decision lost their jobs two months later”.

Thees organisation does not tolerate reality, Meester Bond. At least the two unfortunate executives were spared poisonous spiders, venom from a spiked toe-cap, being cut in two by a laser beam, electrocution in front of their peers, being thrown to hungry piranha fish, cremated alive, falling into a coffin full of venomous snakes, or being literally thrown to the dogs.

But, as Yashar Ali has noted, Murdoch cutting and running is because of one ego: “1. $787.5 million settlement from Fox … 2. Over 1,000 people charged with federal crimes for Jan 6 … 3. A complex special counsel investigation … 4. Careers and reputations destroyed … 5. A major state investigation … All because one man, Donald Trump, couldn’t admit he lost”.

And it’s not over for Fox News, as Ben Smith observed. “Statement from Smartmatic lawyer Erik Connolly: ‘Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest … Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy”. Another big payout looms.

Pundits from across the political spectrum, from Keith Olbermann to former Fox and Friends host Gretchen Carlson, had urged Dominion not to settle and to make an example of FNC. Now the same entreaties are being made of Smartmatic. Rupert Murdoch and family made one hell of a mistake.

And Trump? Like he gives a shit about anyone else. Never mind, Rupe, eh?

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Sunday 16 April 2023

Euro Fash Summit - Perhaps

Back in 1940, there was a so-called World’s Fair in Lisbon. Most of the world was otherwise engaged, and perhaps surprised: the only nation other than Portugal to take part was Brazil. The exaggerated title was par for the course for the less than benign régime of António de Oliveira Salazar: it is a concept not lost on the party leader who seeks to follow in his footsteps.

André Ventura. And his twitchy right arm

So no-one should have been surprised to hear that there was to be a “Great right wing world summit”, also in Lisbon, next month. This was the invention of one André Ventura, leader of far-right party Chega, who, as I noted recently, has called for a “new dictatorship”, has been openly racist and misogynist, is intolerant of minorities, and claimed voting may be rigged.

And while Portugal’s constitution prohibits “armed associations, military, militarized or paramilitary-type associations and organizations that are racist or display a fascist ideology”, there is Ventura being openly racist and making a salute with his right arm that looks more than a little Third Reich.

But that was in 2020: now, Ventura leads the third largest party in the Assembly of the Republic. So full of himself that he has called his Summit, which, rather than being “right wing”, will be far-right, and then some. We need only peruse the list of those invited, and those attending, to confirm that this is to be a gathering of the Euro Fash, plus a few hangers-on.

But here a problem enters: gathering all the Euro Fash together represents a monumental security risk. This the local media has acknowledged: “The presence in Lisbon of ‘various leaders of the world’s extreme right promises to be a big headache for PSP police who will have to guarantee security of those taking part in the summit between May 13 and 14’”. Do go on.

So says Correio da Manhã tabloid today, following up on a video statement recorded by André Ventura, leader of Portugal’s right wing party CHEGA … CM suggests the Lisbon summit aims to emulate events put on by the ‘ultra conservative American movement’, championed by former president Donald Trump”. Ventura’s schtick contains the usual dishonest braggadocio.

The presence of Jair Bolsonaro, Matteo Salvini and many other leaders of the European right, places Lisbon as one of the strongest new centers of the right in Europe and one of the world references in the fight against socialism; the fight against impoverishment, the fight against globalism, the fight against federalism, the fight against gender ideology, the fight against for the dignity of those who work for those who live at the cost of those who work”. Yawn.

It’s globalists, trans people, it’s people taking YOUR money, it’s someone else’s fault. So who’s coming? “Confirmed for the event already are former president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro and Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders of Holland’s Freedom Party, Tino Chupralia, president of Germany’s Alternative (AfD) party, and Santiago Abascal, of Spain’s Vox”.

Also, “Mr Trump has already been sent an invitation to the summit, as has France’s right wing icon Marine Le Pen”. No sign yet of former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, but give it time. And guess what? “CHEGA has been in touch with the ministry of internal administration, ‘which will have to articulate security’ for such VIP attendees”.

Yes, the party that blames it all on those sponging off taxpayers wants to, er, sponge off taxpayers to pay its security bill. Where will it take place? “The city’s Campo Pequeno was one of the first choices, but a decision is still dependent on whether or not this is considered ‘safe enough’ from the point of being able to guarantee attendees’ security”. That’s the Lisbon bull ring.

Which is adjacent to a very busy main road (the Avenida da República), close to one of Lisbon’s main transport hubs at Entrecampos, and houses a shopping mall whose tenants may not take kindly to losing a weekend’s takings just so the Euro Fash and their hangers-on can have a secure jolly.

And while one observer musedWe should not make this bigger than it is. Ventura is just inviting his I&D buddies and a Brazilian far-right entertainer who previously helped open a burger joint in Florida”, another made the obvious point: “Portuguese party Chega will hold a world summit in #Lisbon with several far-right party leaders. Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini will attend. So a summit of Nazi Parties. What could go wrong?”. Hence the scepticism.

Will the City of Lisbon pay the security bill for The Man Who Would Be Salazar, the party leader who wants to proclaim the Fourth Republic, scratching the racist itch as he waves his right arm in a style that is not reminiscent of Nazism, honestly? Or is Ventura just on a self-publicity kick?

We may find out well before the weekend of May 13. More on this later.

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Saturday 15 April 2023

No Coronation Let-Up For Megs Hate

With the King’s Coronation, an event which should be a celebratory and joyous one, if only for ardent Royalists, less than a month away, one might have thought that the tsunami of hatred coming from our free and fearless press and directed at the Sussexes might abate for the duration of those celebrations. But that thought would have been sadly misplaced.

Who're you f***ing calling sick and obsessive, c***?!?!?

The right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, which spends an inordinate amount of time trying to prove true Haz’ claim that they would only stop when his wife was dead, has if anything pushed the pedal even closer to the metal in its collective obsession. If a lone man or woman did what they are doing, they would be accused of stalking. And the accusation would be justified.

Edwin Hayward has been looking at the stats. And they make for worrying reading. “This is what industrial-scale hatemongering looks like. All the stories below attacking Meghan (mainly) and Harry (quite a bit) appeared on the Express website within the last 24H. 44 bile-filled rants in just one day. That's a pace of 16,000 attacks a year”. Was this an isolated 24-hour period?

Sadly not. “Perhaps you're wondering if it's some kind of weird unrepresentative blip? Sadly not. Take a look at this thread of mine from two years ago”. Which toldThis is what institutionalised bullying and racism looks like. 50 - yes, fifty - articles attacking Meghan Markle were published on the Express website yesterday. That's *50* articles in *24* hours”.

He also divulged this nugget: “Google has archived over 27,000 separate Express articles which have ‘Meghan’ in the title”. Also, the spewing of hatred never stopped. Never: “the Daily Mail, Express etc. kept up their attacks on Meghan and Harry even during the mourning period for the Queen”. In parallel with the hatred has come fawning talking up of the (now) Waleses.

And this is where the Mail has proudly inflated its latest soufflé of grovelling well beyond the point of structural integrity. Alternatively, the article, “How Kate's ancestor played a key role in abolishing slavery ... after the Sussexes' barbs about Royals and racism” might better be described as turd polishing.

From the start, with the claim “The Princess of Wales’s ancestor was known as ‘greatest American abolitionist’” (Harriet Martineau was not American and visited the USA only once, albeit over a period of several months), the Mail is stretching credibility. The claim that Ms Martineau’s visits to US Presidents James Madison and Andrew Jackson somehow “ultimately set in motion” Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is pure speculation.

How DARE she care about her own family?

The linking of the Mail’s heroine to Meg’s ancestors is yet more tenuous. Worse, it has no relevance whatever to the Mail’s unceasing efforts to portray the now Princess of Wales as some kind of superior being, a style icon and wonderful mother beyond criticism. It’s all part of the sick Megs-bashing obsession of the right-wing press. It’s empty and disturbing in equal measure.

After all, this whole piece is an overlong attempt to refute one claim, which the Mail at least mentions: “Prince Harry’s notorious interview with Oprah Winfrey - an interview in which, many maintain, Harry levelled an accusation of racism against the Royal Family with his claim that an unnamed relative had speculated on how dark his (then unborn) baby Archie’s skin would be”.

Authored by one Claudia Joseph, who has also brought the world “'Figure magician' who helped Princess of Wales get in shape after the birth of Prince George closes her business after revealing it 'did not survive' the pressure of her divorce and pandemic losses” and “Well-heeled celebrities follow in Camilla's footsteps by snapping up the Queen Consort's favourite bunion busters - but with five-inch platforms”. Proper highbrow stuff.

And if anyone thinks that is all the Mail is offering us by the way of Megs bashing today, economic migrant Amanda Bloody Platell has excreted “Why female royals must be glad that Meghan is staying away” [no citation], in which she makes a series of potentially actionable claims about Haz.

Now we know the reason Prince Harry held out so long before accepting his invitation to the Coronation. Far from agonising over his duty to King and country, he was obsessed with the seating plan. He needed to know who he and Meghan, if she deigned to attend, would sit behind and who’d be in front of them. What arrogance to refuse to say until the last minute whether they were coming or not. How rude to fail to reply by the RSVP date”.

How does she know when they replied? But it’s just another day in the seam of sick and creepy obsession mined relentlessly for sales and clicks by a press establishment desperate for cheap copy - and yet more desperate to prop up another part of the establishment, that being the Royal Family.

It’s high time every last one of the bottom-feeding “Royal experts” and pundits was made to go out into the world and get a real job. Like Haz and Megs.

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Friday 14 April 2023

Nile Gardiner - Partisan Idiot Speaks

Joe Biden has been visiting Ireland, being awarded the privilege of addressing the Oireachtas among his engagements. He also made time to visit Northern Ireland, meeting party leaders and encouraging them in the direction of restoring the power sharing executive at Stormont: The USA is, let us not forget, a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreements of 25 years ago.

Nile Gardiner. At least as stupid as he looks

So far, so routine, but in the fevered mind of partisan pundits, Biden had done something wrong. And there are few pundits more tediously and reliably partisan than Nile “Chauncey” Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation. He was aghast at Biden’s behaviour: “Joe Biden has gravely insulted Britain” he whined plaintively.

Do go on. “President Biden’s insulting decision to prioritise Ireland over the UK on his visit to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement should have come as no surprise”. The GFA is about Ireland, Nile. And it was a visit to Ireland. He will make a state visit to the UK later. And talking of state visits.

It is just as unsurprising as his decision to skip the coronation of King Charles III … His approach towards Britain, traditionally America’s closest friend and ally, has been sneering, arrogant and disrespectful”. Missed that? So did I. But then he admits “Yes, it is true that no US president has ever attended the Coronation of a British monarch. But the last Coronation, of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, was 70 years ago, in the aftermath of World War Two, in a completely different era”. And a Republican President (Eisenhower).

And Nile doesn’t say boo about the GOP. But this is lame rubbish. US Presidents don’t do Coronations. Ike didn’t, nor did FDR in 1937. Biden did attend the funeral service for Elizabeth II, but gets no credit from Gardiner. Instead, Chauncey gets out his quote generator and moans loudly.

An additional factor shaping Biden’s treatment of Britain is his intense animosity towards Brexit, and his adoration of the European Union … Biden has shamelessly appeased the EU and its powerhouses of Paris and Berlin, while often treating London with barely disguised menace and disdain”.

No citation, and none will be forthcoming. He whines at Biden because that’s what he did to Barack Obama, and what he does to all Dems. Compare and contrast with the visit to the UK in 2019 by Combover Crybaby Donald Trump: “The roaring success of Trump's state visit proves the Special Relationship is alive and well … this was one of the most effective overseas visits of the Trump presidency”. It may have been effective. But not in the way suggested.

While Gardiner simpered “But the grandeur of the state visit was matched by the force of Mr Trump’s message for the British people. His top policy priority was to advance a US-UK free trade deal which, when put in place, will be one of the biggest bilateral trade deals ever signed … the president made it crystal clear that he wants a trade deal implemented as soon as possible, ideally by 2020”, he missed the Trump gaffe that caused all the trouble.

Not that he’d admit that a Republican President did gaffes, or interfered in domestic UK politics. But Trump did just that, after he admittedI think we’re going to have a great trade deal … We’re going to have a great and very comprehensive trade deal … I think everything with a trade deal is on the table. When you’re dealing with trade, everything’s on the table”. Do go on.

So NHS or anything else … a lot more than that, but everything will be on the table”. Whoops! The Brexit Party and its Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who had been such enthusiastic supporters of The Donald, and who were expected to win the Peterborough by-election that took place a few days after Trump made those remarks, didn’t. They lost. It was Trump wot lost it.

But there was nothing but praise from Gardiner. “While the European Union will wait years, even decades, for a trade deal with America, Britain could have one within a year, provided it leaves the EU on October 31”. Didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Not in the real world.

Not that Chauncey was going to tell readers of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph. Instead, he sneered “Joe Biden is increasingly portrayed on both sides of the Atlantic as a bumbling, gaffe-prone president who mumbles his words, and can be strikingly incoherent in public settings. This is an accurate assessment”. No it isn’t. It’s just partisan abuse.

And never forget: this is the idiot who, while he was having a sneer at Barack Obama, said “When John F. Kennedy delivered his ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’ speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him". Except that the Brandenburg Gate was on the other side of the wall, in East Berlin. JFK spoke at the Rathaus Schöneberg.

That’s what happens when you’ve never had a proper job. Sad, really.

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Thursday 13 April 2023

Dan Wootton - You’re A Sick Man

Still generating more heat than light at the broadcasting noise floor occupant that is Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), otherwise unemployable economic migrant Dan Wootton has been promoting his own view of the world, in which Combover Crybaby Donald Trump is good, the actual US President Joe Biden is bad, and don’t mention the Sussexes.

He's desperate, Dan

Someone out there may actually agree with Desperate Dan, but whoever they are, they’re keeping awfully quiet about it. He warmed up by slagging off Biden. “For all of the British folk who loudly celebrated the demise of Trump, well now you have an anti-British President … If anyone was in any doubt about Biden’s deep hatred of the UK, today proved it beyond doubt”.

It did? There was more. “Biden has made his anti-British feelings clear on many occasions [just the one (poor) example] … Joe Biden leaves the special relationship hanging by a thread”. No thought is allowed to enter that the act of leaving the EU might have made the UK less relevant to the USA. No proof of this supposed hatred. No credibility Dan Wootton. No change there.

And another subject where there is no change from the obsession, tantrum throwing and bile spewing is The Sussexes. Like former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, Wootton’s creepy obsession with Megs would have lesser people seeing a visit from the cops asking them if they didn’t have anything less cringe inducing to occupy their time.

Meanwhile, he’s been continuing his obsession in yet another Mail Online column. “Has gutless Meghan swerved the Coronation because she can't stand the thought of being booed? Kate's relief will be palpable, but she'll still have to keep furious William away from his treacherous brother Harry” he told his adoring followers as he made up yet another screed of sick fantasy.

He varied the rant to claim “So Meghan bottles it, leaving Prince Harry to attend the Coronation alone in order to avoid boos from angry Brits in the crowd. But how sad to deny the king the chance to see his two grandchildren who will remain in California”. You capitalise the word King, Dan, and if Brian wants to see his grandchildren, he can fly over to the USA. Sorted.

Dan who?

But this is hypocritical: Wootton has spent months saying that Megs should not attend the Coronation. Now that she’s not coming, he rants about her “bottling it”, which is a strange way to say “prioritising the fourth birthday of son Archie”. All because he probably had something like “Selfish Meghan to steel Coronation limelight. Kate in tears” lined up and now can’t use it.

This is, let us not forget, the creep who went after Caroline Flack right up to the point that the unfortunate former Love Island presenter took her own life, and then claimed that he was her friend. That sums up the entitlement of the media class: when ordinary people do it, it’s sick, obsessive hatred. When Desperate Dan Wootton does it, it’s award winning journalism.

Remember, after the Queen died, it did not take long for Wootton to take out his obsession and wave it: “A pitch perfect address to the nation by King Charles III. Vowed to move on from the issues he cares so deeply. Endorsed Wills and Kate as the Prince and Princess of Wales. Expressed his love to Harry and Meghan, even though they plan to trash him”. There was more.

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

As the journalist who broke the most stories about former Suits star Meghan’s tumultuous time in the Royal Family, including the Sussexes decision to Megxit, it’s utter hogwash to suggest her race played any role in the ensuing rows … Meghan wasn’t pushed out of the Royal Family because of ethnicity”. Says over-privileged and over-promoted white man.

His name’s Dan, he’s a desperate man. And increasingly irrelevant.

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Wednesday 12 April 2023

Liz Truss - Woke Yourself, Stupid

After presiding over the briefest and most economically disastrous Prime Ministerial interregnum in recent history, what would be the best course of action for the over-promoted (and especially by our free and fearless press) and under-talented Liz Truss to take? What would a sensible politician do? What would a serious politician do? What would Nietzsche have done?

Sadly, in the world inhabited by Ms Truss, and perhaps by those in and around the Tufton Street network of Astroturf lobby groups fraudulently masquerading as “think tanks”, movers and shakers do not operate on such a lofty intellectual plane. So it is that the UK’s least credible former Prime Minister will emerge into the sunlight - well, wind and rain - for a speech.

As ITV News has told, “The former prime minister, who was forced out of office after 49 days, will deliver the Margaret Thatcher Freedom lecture at the right-wing Heritage Foundation in Washington DC on Wednesday”. That’s the same Heritage Foundation that has majored in climate change denial, promoted false voter fraud claims, and opposed transgender rights.

This less than totally august body has also opposed the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. But where does Mrs T come in to this? Wikipedia reminds us “In 2005, Heritage established the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in honor of the former British prime minister. Thatcher herself maintained a long relationship with The Heritage Foundation”.

Thus perpetuating the right-wing myth that one can only be truly free if taxes are lowered and regulation diminished. Ms Truss will offer more along those lines. “It was Anglo-American individualism that made the world prosperous [odd way of saying ‘debt’] … Low taxes, limited government and private enterprise were what won the Cold War”. Military expenditure? Proxy wars?

Still, if at first you don’t succeed, well, suck a little more seed. “We have seen low growth for decades… Real incomes haven’t increased significantly since the financial crisis. In fact, the average GDP per capita in the UK is nearly 30% lower than it is in the United States”. Who’s been in power in the UK for the past 13 years? And who’s hobbled the UK economy with Brexit?

Moreover, she doesn’t make sense. First we hear “we have to ask ourselves: are we still match fit to take on China and to take on the whole concept of state capitalism?” Then comes “We need to get real about the threat from authoritarian regimes and their unwitting allies in the anti-growth movement”. Not checked out China’s growth figures for the recent past, then?

But the pièce de résistance comes in the news that Ms Truss will be “arguing that ‘stagnation, redistributionism and woke culture’ have been ‘taking hold in businesses and the economy in the UK and the US’, resulting in ‘more tax, more subsidies, more regulation’”. What she describes has absolutely nothing to do with anything that can be legitimately called WOKE.

Let’s consider the two definitions of that word: first, the lesser meaning “Well-informed, up-to-date”, and second, the greater meaning “Alert to injustices in society, especially racism”. That, and nothing else, can be taken as a meaning of the term WOKE. The clear conclusion is that Liz Truss, aided and abetted by her speechwriter, does not know what she’s talking about.

No regret for the shambles that was her - fortunately - brief time in power. No apology for the steepling rise in mortgage costs for millions of citizens. No remorse at the run on Sterling, the diminishing of savings, the further weakening of an economy already on the rack after more than a decade of Tory austerity. Like all Tory ineptitude, it’s all someone else’s fault.

The Heritage Foundation and its Margaret Thatcher Center For Freedom is no better than the alphabet soup of Astroturf lobby groups here in the UK. So Liz Truss is an ideal speaker for them: blaming all the usual suspects for her own shortcomings, pushing flat earth economics, embarking on a non-existent comeback, while in reality just shouting into the void.

Liz Truss was for a time, but not for all time. Just rejoice at that news.

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Tuesday 11 April 2023

Golliwog Display - Yes, It’s Racist

Many, many years ago, Robertson’s, the manufacturers of Golden Shred marmalade, adopted the golliwog symbol, not at the time seen as racially charged, as its trade mark. The firm officially retired that symbol in 2002; at the time there were mutterings of political correctness; the firm insisted it was a business decision. But elsewhere, the golliwog lives on.

The Ryleys. With hanging golliwogs in the background ((c) Eastnews Press Agency))

And in a doll form, it has been on very prominent display at the White Hart, a pub in the Essex town of Grays. Sadly, someone took exception to the display and made a complaint to the Police. They duly arrived and took the dolls away. Then someone tipped off the Daily Mail, who went to the Home Office to see if Suella Braverman would like to pass comment on the seizure.

With all her other initiatives failing to catch the public mood, of course she would. “Suella Braverman blasts police force for sending FIVE officers to seize collection of golliwog dolls from family pub as Home Office source warns they 'shouldn't be involved in this nonsense’” howled the headline.

Do go on. “The Home Secretary has scolded a police force for sending five officers to a family-owned pub to seize a collection of golliwog dolls, it was revealed yesterday … Suella Braverman is said to have been furious about the approach, which also saw police question pub owner Benice Ryley, and has told Essex Police that bosses should be focusing on catching real criminals rather than seizing toys”. Of course she was.

There was more. “Mrs Ryley, who has run the pub with her husband for 17 years, said some of the dolls are very valuable, with one worth up to £1,000. They have built a collection of the black-faced toys and other memorabilia donated by customers over the years. The pub has previously refused to move the dolls after the local authority received a complaint in 2018”.

Mrs Ryley went on to tell “The last thing this pub is is racist, we hold Indian weddings here all the time and of course everyone is welcome”. But then, the social media history of her husband, who appears to be resident in the Turkish resort town of Marmaris, came to light, and it suggested that the pub display was no innocently gathered collection of memorabilia.

More golliwogs, some of them hanging

There on his Facebook page was the implicitly racist “White Lives Matter”, the predictable follow up “When is White History Month please. [sic] Anybody know?”, and another of those golliwog dolls looking around the door with the caption “Hello Great Britain, Am I Allowed Back In?” Another image had the Colston Statue’s base with a golliwog figure instead of the statue.

Christopher Ryley (for it was he) had captioned this one “Sadiq,s [sic] new ideas”. He does misuse commas rather a lot. And then the pièce de résistance: a photo of two of those dolls hanging from the pub bar, with Ryley telling anyone listening “They used to hang them in Mississippi years ago”. If it walks like a racist, and talks like a racist, it might just be a racist.

But that has not stopped the so-called Free Speech Union, domain of the loathsome Toby Young, from wading in. ‘Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised Essex Police for sending five officers to a family-owned pub to seize a collection of golliwog dolls - the dolls came quietly, but the police force regard their presence at the venue as a possible ‘hate crime’”.

Sunder Katwala had something to say about that. “That may reflect the use of the golliwog dolls to depict the public display of a lynching, with the landlord referencing lynchings of black people in the deep South in his online social media communication about why he depicted them hanging in this way”. Dead right it might. Does “hate crime” look so OTT now? There was more.

It would be illuminating to know if the landlord's online comments indicating that he was using the golliwog dolls to depict a lynching above his bar in the pub impact on the views of [the Free Speech Union] or [Toby Young] about where the boundaries should lie”. Or, perish the thought, Tobes and his pals somehow failed to do their research and took the Daily Mail on trust?

The Mail suggests the Ryleys are victims. The evidence suggests not.

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Monday 10 April 2023

Keir Starmer Has A Polecat

Few will need reminding of the less than ethical behaviour of disgraced former occasional Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and the shockingly unprincipled conversion of 10 Downing Street into Party Central while the rest of the country was having to observe restrictions on movement and socialising during the various waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ey up, a polecat ...

Equally, few will forget the equally unethical and unprincipled behaviour of Bozo’s sidekick and enforcer, former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, whose time in the corridors of power was eventually brought to an end, to the great relief of those who wished it had happened rather earlier.

Sadly for those who would vote Labour, if only to see the terminal ineptitude that is the Tories cast out of power, and hopefully for a very long time, it is now clear that the party’s leader Keir Starmer has his own polecat, and gives every appearance of giving that individual rather more autonomy and authority than they merit. The existence of the Labour polecat has been made public by the fallout from last week’s attack advert targeting Rishi Sunak.

At first, it seemed that the aggressive Tory bashing was being walked back, after criticism from the likes of pundit Yasmin Alibhai Brown: “Labour attack ad. Is it to appeal to racists in the red wall? These voters drive all Labour policies. Among them are many who are repelled by the PM's ethnicity. [Sunak] is a fanatic Tory. But this attack stinks of racism and opportunism”.

Point. Then came the weekend papers, and Dan Barker notedIt seems Keir Starmer was not told the Labour Party was going to put out a series of ads personally attacking Rishi Sunak … A) Labour's comms policy is a mess … B) The highlighted section here is to protect Keir Starmer, who will say it was in bad taste & someone will lose a job”. It wasn’t just Starmer not being told.

As Sunder Katwala observed, “Observer report says Starmer didn't know about the controversial Labour ad, nor did Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, nor most of Shadow Cabinet. Though there was a major Comms/LOTO row about it. This comms initiative is becoming somewhat orphaned”. So it was going to be rowed back, was it? Oh no it wasn’t.

... but who is he?

Then the polecat showed his hand. James Heale of the Spectator was reading the tabloids: “'Labour insider' to MoS on Yvette Cooper's lack of support for THAT crime ad: ‘Sheer cowardice from a serial failure who should have left frontline politics long ago. If Yvette disagrees so strongly with pointing out the Tories’ dismal record on crime, she knows where the door is’”.

Sharp intake of breath. That could have come straight out of the Cummings playbook. We have a polecat. And today’s Daily Mail splash tells you that, whoever the individual behind the cowardice of that anonymous briefing, they have the ear of the party leadership. Starmer is not going to row back last week’s vicious smears - he is doubling down on them.

Despite claims of ‘gutter politics’, Labour chief writes in Mail he makes ‘zero apologies’ … TORY ANGER AS STARMER STANDS BY ‘EVERY WORD’ OF RISHI ADS” reads the headline, telling you One, that this version of Labour is happy to try and court the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, and Two, that is not going to stop those press outlets favouring the Tories.

Moreover, Three, the latest opinion poll, this from Opinium Research, has Labour’s poll lead down at 11%. The Tories are back at 30%, so not total wipeout territory, and the Lib Dems are back in double figures. For reference, the Labour poll lead at the 1997 General Election was 12.5%. Opinion polls had recorded far larger leads in the run-up to the poll.

Yes, the Tories have been smearing Labour on crime for many years. But think on: what Cummings, the polecat by whom all polecattery should be measured, did for Bozo was that, ultimately, he did for him. His was a shameless and destructive force, and Starmer’s polecat will be no different in the effect he has on his party. The Labour leader has made a mistake.

Whether he can recover from that mistake is another matter. That is all.

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Saturday 8 April 2023

Labour Attack Ads - And Reality

A sudden descent into the gutter by whoever is overseeing advertising for the Labour Party has taken many observers by surprise. More surprising is that, when called out for the suggestion that Rishi Sunak was somehow soft on child sexual exploitation, there was no apology or contrition, but a decision to very publicly double down. It will not end well for The Red Team.

When the advert attacking Sunak appeared - no doubt the claims made by Home Secretary Suella Braverman last weekend had something to do with it - the initial reaction of many was, like Paul Waugh of the i Paper, “Labour’s latest attack ad on @RishiSunak is truly appalling. Nothing can justify it and I assume it will be deleted. Like the grooming gangs/Savile memes of the far right going mainstream, this stuff cheapens our politics”. It’ll get deleted.

However, Carl Shoben of Survation reminded usAs a previous Labour strategy director, I guess I have to comment on that ad. Labour would have known it would cause outrage and that would have been its purpose. Political messages in ads can only cut through if people outside twitter talk about it. That’s been achieved here”. Although he didn’t think it was a good idea.

Not when the Party is 20 points ahead in the polls, and more mundane issues like the cost of living are likely to dominate the upcoming local election campaign. Why are they doing it? Someone told Kevin Schofield of the HuffPostThey [Aus Labour and US Dems] told us to ignore the people who expect you to be kind losers and fight as viciously as the Conservatives”.

But, as Alex Nunns pointed out, “Labour put out a baseless attack ad blaming Sunak for not locking up all adults convicted of sexually assaulting children. But it appears Starmer himself sat on the sentencing council responsible, and minutes seem to show this issue was discussed”. Oh dear!

Worse, the dead giveaway is that Labour now has a Dirty Tricks operation which has a direct line to the Party leadership. Which negates the idea of Keir Starmer as being a bit dull and uninspiring, but not in a very positive way. Just who is behind this needless campaign I know not and care less, save to point out that handing them any authority was a most unwise move.

That is because, as I keep having to remind those who think Starmer and his team will walk into 10 Downing Street by default come next year’s General Election, the Tories can do attack ads too - plus they can call on the inmates of the Northcliffe House and Baby Shard bunkers to back them up with more knocking copy, coupled with faux outrage at those Dem Sayshlists.

As a taster of what might come back over the fence, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have already picked up on Starmer’s presence at that sentencing council, and have mocked up their own attack advert. That is just the tip of the attack dog iceberg. Imagine the Mail and Sun taking that and running with it. And all the others.

The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph would fall into line, as would the Daily Brexit, still called the Express. The increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine would be a willing participant. And the BBC would feel duty bound (ha ha ha) to “both sides” the whole thing. All this is before someone gets that big bad skeleton out of Labour’s cupboard.

One Tweeter gave us a taster of what that may mean: topping and tailing an image of Starmer and Peter Mandelson, it asks “Do you think Labour should be advised by a friend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein?” and signs off “Sir Keir Starmer Does”. Mandelson, press hate figure, sacked twice by Tony Blair, a pal of Epstein, and there he is at Starmer’s side. Oh dear indeed!

And that would just be for starters. There would be so much more, especially now that Labour has legitimised the dirtiest dirty tricks. Picking this as the hill on which someone at Labour HQ is willing to die could very easily mean the entire election effort takes a hit as a result. Voters will shrug their shoulders and say “they really are all the same” before not voting for them.

As Paul Waugh has noted, there is also Starmer’s lack of consistency: “One frontbencher says a current online video of Starmer’s flip-flops is a taste of things to come. ‘The general election campaign is going to be full of videos of Keir, “he said this, now he’s says that”.’” Labour can have no complaints if it gets vicious. Not when they were full participants in writing the rules.

One day, Starmer’s advisors will engage brain first. But maybe not just yet.

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Friday 7 April 2023

Murdoch Empire Losses Grow

The travails of Rupert Murdoch are not currently limited to his most recent engagement being called off: over in the States, the activities of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) look likely to end up costing him well north of a billion US Dollars (minimum), and here in the UK, the balance sheet continues to contain rather a lot of red ink. So what is causing the loss?

Simples. The fallout from phone hacking claims has not yet abated, and even though News UK has still refused to admit that the Super Soaraway Currant Bun was hacking - not just the late and not at all lamented Screws - the payouts continue, as does the determination of the Murdoch mafiosi not to let any of the claims get anywhere near the door of the court.

As the BBC has reported, “The publisher of the Sun newspaper has set aside £127m to cover the costs of phone hacking court cases, according to recent company filings … A case brought by Prince Harry is among those covered, the BBC understands … News Group said the sum was not a sign it accepted liability”. So how does the £127 million break down?

News Group earmarked £46.8m for damages and claimant's legal expenses relating to phone hacking and inappropriate payments to public officials in the twelve months to 3 July 2022, and another £53m for future costs, totalling £99.8m, according to accounts filed at Companies House. It has budgeted a further £27.5m for legal fees relating to the closure of the News of the World”.

There is more. “That marked a significant increase from the £49m in legal fees and damages the firm disclosed in the previous year … The legal costs helped to push the company into an annual loss of £127m, up from £52m the previous year”. But it wasn’t the only loss maker, as Press Gazette noted.

The new accounts from News UK’s subsidiaries also revealed TalkTV made £1.1m in revenue between its launch on 25 April and the end of the financial year on 3 July … [News UK Broadcasting] made a loss of £34m after it launched TalkTV”. So what’s the channel going to make in a full year - something like £5 million? That’s a GB News level of losses.

Moreover, it takes those losses over £160 million. And despite PG reminding readers “The Sun more than doubled its pre-tax losses to £127.2m last year - but News UK stablemates The Times and Sunday Times boosted profits by 115% to £73.2m”, “the High Court heard in March last year there were at that time 52 claims registered against NGN, with a further 436 claims at the pre-action letter stage and 82 more claims ‘in the pipeline’”.

So that’s a lot more of that provision for future losses. The Murdoch empire cannot shake off the taint of illegal activity: this is a road that Associated Newspapers does not want to travel, and why it is throwing as much legal firepower as it can muster at efforts to have the action brought against it by Prince Harry, Elton John and several others struck out. It’s that simple.

Because, as the experience of News UK has shown, once you start paying off claimants while maintaining that no wrongdoing took place but making sure that none of the claims get to court, it becomes seriously expensive. A Judge has now imposed a cut-off date for new claims to be brought: Associated will have seen the mess and envisioned its own profitability heading south.

Why does the right leaning part of our free and fearless press hate Prince Harry? You might wish to ask that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

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Thursday 6 April 2023

Telegraph Wacko Bigotry BUSTED

After Suella Braverman, for some reason appointed Home Secretary, appeared on the Sunday morning politics shows asserting that what are known as “grooming gangs” were overwhelmingly all about males of British but Pakistani heritage abusing what she specifically termed “white girls”, it was inevitable that today’s client journalists would be right behind her.

And so it came to pass, with a side order of claiming that, despite the Tories having been in power for 13 years, it was All Labour’s Fault. At the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, this meant a suitably OTT column from Somewhere-Between-Barking-And-Upminster pundit Allison Pearson, who had really got her dander up about Scary Muslims™.

Labour should hang their heads in shame over the grooming scandals … ’Cultural sensitivity’ always means sensitivity to one culture alone - and it sure as hell isn’t the culture of white working-class girls … Yvette Cooper says sensitivities around race should not prevent action over child sexual exploitation - but that’s exactly what her party has done for years”. Do go on.

Yvette and I can agree that you certainly shouldn’t allow ethnic sensitivities to get in the way, because the priority must always be protecting vulnerable youngsters, obviously. Where we disagree is in that it seems to have slipped Yvette’s mind that thousands of attempts by victims, social workers and other concerned adults to report predatory behaviour by British Pakistani grooming gangs have repeatedly been stymied by - oh, look! - Labour politicians, Labour councillors and police forces in Labour-controlled towns”.

That would explain former prosecutor Nazir Afzal successfully prosecuting a significantly-sized group of individuals in Rochdale, then. Ms Pearson has also managed to miss that 84% of those identified as perpetrators of Child Sexual Exploitation were what is called White British. Not Muslims.

But, sadly, there is more. “One thing we can say with total confidence is that there has never been a white girl so distraught, so despicably abused, so trafficked or so tortured that Labour has not been prepared to sacrifice her on the altar of preserving their Muslim block vote”. This is total crap.

There is no “Muslim block vote”. But note the giveaway: “British Pakistani heritage” becomes interchangeable with “Muslim”. Thus the real target, which Ms Pearson confirms when she says of a definition of “Asian” perpetrators “although I object to that definition. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, they are not, and it’s offensive to lump them all together”. It’s about Muslims.

Although she then switches to saying of claims that Ms Braverman’s characterisation is racist “Slightly tricky to do that with a home secretary who has Indian-African heritage”. But that is not where Ms Pearson is at: she is merely deflecting. Enough: let’s consider the latest real world cases of grooming gangs, and check out who has been getting guilty.

Here’s the Oldham Times from earlier this week: “A group of men from across Bolton and Lancashire accused of a string of child sex offences have appeared in court for the first time … All 13 men were brought before Bolton Magistrates Court this week charged with various offences allegedly committed against girls under 16-years-old”. Grooming gang, was it?

And well, if it concerned 13 blokes from Bolton, well, nudge nudge, we know what that means … they’re all, er, White British. Every last one of them. Maybe a case from the West Midlands would suit Ms Pearson’s agenda? I mean, lots of Muslims in that part of the world, right? And the BBC has reportedTwenty-one convicted in West Midlands child sex abuse inquiry”.

This was “the largest ever child sex abuse case investigated by West Midlands Police. The offending against seven children, who were 12 years old or younger, took place over nearly a decade in Walsall and Wolverhampton … Of those already imprisoned, sentences range from 28 months to life … The case can only now be reported because a series of trials which began last year has ended”. Twelve years old or younger.

DCS Paul Drover said the offences were “some of the most shocking abuse that I've seen in my career … They have been through a significant amounts of trauma. To get the confidence to come forward and to talk to care professionals, to police is huge and I am genuinely thankful”.

And those getting guilty? “David Baker, James Evans, Mark Smith, Natalie Wellington and Tracey Baker were given the longest prison sentences”. All 21 of them were White British. A gang committing child sexual abuse. The largest case of its kind investigated by WMP. What you will not read in comment columns from the Tel’s less than disinterested pundits.

Suella Braverman and her fellow Tories are merely wicked: the right-leaning cohort of client journalists is, additionally, malicious and wrong. That is all.

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