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Wednesday 31 May 2023

Keir Starmer - Damned By The Past

In another inexplicably hostile intervention on the subject of the EU, Labour leader Keir Starmer has sunk to the depths of writing for the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, and a mightily lame piece it is too, from the very first line - “Express readers deserve their politicians to be clear about where they stand. So let me spell it out simply”. Go on then, give us all a good laugh.

Britain's future is outside the EU. Not in the single market, not in the customs union, not with a return to freedom of movement. Those arguments are in the past, where they belong”. Those arguments are not in the past, and thus Starmer’s first problem. Then comes the pointless EU-bashing.

There is no point pretending everything is working fine. The paper-thin Tory deal has stifled Britain's potential and hugely weighted trade terms towards the EU. Every day it isn't built upon, our European friends and competitors aren't just eating our lunch - they're nicking our dinner money as well”. Very good, Sir Keir. Do you think they don’t speak English in Brussels?

On he goes, talking about criminal gangs, The Boats, and food prices, then claims “Every one of the problems I have outlined can be fixed from outside the EU”. No. Just no. We know how this will play out, and Niall Ó Conghaile has summed up the most likely scenario in a Twitter thread (HERE).

It'll be positivity and smiles at the start … Then Europe will reiterate its own red lines, which are the same as they were for May, Johnson and the Brexiters … Talks will make little progress … UK press and pols will demand ‘flexibility’ from Europe while UKG offers zero flexibility … UK press and pols start lobbing Europhobic bombs. The old tunes like references to Naziism, Soviet dictatorship, woke socialism … Talks will collapse”. There was more.

UK press, pols and many people will blame Europeans for not giving them what they want to make Brexit great … [what] Starmer is doing [is] ducking the hard conversation about what's wrong with the UK … By promising the undeliverable, he sets the UK on a path to further rancour and intemperate language towards its neighbours (even hostility or worse)”.

Small wonder he prefixes his observations with “The Express interview with Starmer today is quite troubling for anyone who wants the best for the UK or wants better European-UK relations”. The electorate is slowly but inexorably realising that Brexit was a calamitous mistake. He can sound as Brexity as he likes, but the mood is no longer hostile to accepting political reality.

If he doesn’t want to take my words on trust, maybe he will listen to what the last Labour leader to win a General Election, Tony Blair, said in an address to the European Parliament in 2005: “As ever the people are ahead of the politicians. We always think as a political class that people, unconcerned with the daily obsession of politics, may not understand it, may not see its subtleties and its complexities. But, ultimately, people always see politics more clearly than us”. I’ll go further: they see through a false prospectus.

Not even Margaret Thatcher - claimed today as some kind of Brexiteer visionary by many of those bad faith actors who use her name to peddle more of those false prospectuses - made such lame and defeatist admissions as to assert that “Britain’s future is outside the EU”. She said just the opposite.

In her 1988 speech to the College of Europe in Bruges, which Brexiteers are adept at selectively quoting, she said “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.” She had more to say on that subject.

Let Europe be a family of nations, understanding each other better, appreciating each other more, doing more together but relishing our national identity no less than our common European endeavour”. Starmer’s woeful defeatism does not even try and match Mrs T. His political antenna is way short of that demonstrated by Blair. He fails to grasp post-war reality.

I leave that to one of the great Liberal politicians, Joe Grimond, who said this to the House of Commons in 1960, 63 years ago, as true then as it remains today: “The sad feature is fifteen years ago [in 1945] Britain was at the peak of her power and influence, and the leadership of Europe was hers for the asking. We have thrown it away on grounds that have largely proved wrong”.

Keir Starmer wants to throw it away all over again. Read and weep.

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Monday 29 May 2023

Press Loses It Over This Morning

Our free and fearless press has a disproportional view of how important breakfast and daytime TV is to the nation: it was not so long ago that the Mail targeted ITV breakfast offering Good Morning Britain, indulging in a series of viciously personal attacks on its new co-host Susanna Reid. Those attacks ended when former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan arrived.

This was, of course, nothing to do with Morgan being one of their own, and also that he was at the time an “editor at large” for Mail Online. Now the Mail, along with the Murdoch Sun, has gone off the end of the pier in no style at all at another ITV offering, This Morning, after co-host Phillip Schofield was the subject of a series of personal revelations, and left the show.

He’s left the show. Departed. Gone. Not there any more. No longer on the scene. But this counts for nothing with those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet: the time has come for another attempt to test ITV and its morning programming to destruction. It’s a competitor to the papers, so when it was announced the programme would continue, off they went.

Yes, we continue to endure a cost of living crisis, with energy bills not reducing very much, food inflation still racing ahead, the NHS continues to be in its own rolling crisis, there is still uncertainty over a deal to raise the debt ceiling in the USA, rents and mortgages become more expensive, yet the press wants to kick ITV hard enough to do some damage.

Hence today’s edition of the Sun telling readersSchofield Backlash … ITV loses millions as sponsors quit … Staff fear for jobs if show is axed … WE’VE AD IT WITH THIS MORNING” (geddit?!?!?). There is also the obligatory made-up quote “A source said ‘Brands do not feel ITV is a safe bet at the moment’”. So what is the source for the “loses millions” claim?

[The show’s] main sponsor, car dealers Arnold Clark, announced they would not be renewing their mega-money deal”. Worth how much? We don’t get to find out. Also, let’s have that in full, with context, shall we? “Arnold Clark said its existing multi-million pound sponsorship will end this autumn as planned”. AS PLANNED. No other evidence is ponied up. None. Zip. Zilch. Nil. Nada.

All we get is “A source said”, which is the Murdoch goons making it up on the fly. So can the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker manage anything marginally more credible? “TV DOCTOR HITS OUT AT ‘TOXIC’ THIS MORNING” thunders the headline. But once more we don’t get the context: that should read “Doctor who left the show two years ago”.

And had Ranj Singh spoken to the Mail? Er, no: they lifted it all from a post he put up on Instagram. Still, the Mail insists “Calls for an independent inquiry into the scandal gathered pace, with ITV's most senior bosses under increasing pressure to admit what they knew and when about Schofield's relationship”. No. Shit-stirring from vindictive Mail bosses gathered pace.

Meanwhile, the Mail has also invented a source. “One source said: 'It's time for some truths to be told now, this has been brushed under the carpet for so long and it has to come to an end. The younger man has got to the point now where he won't lie for anyone but actually, he says he was never asked by ITV about any relationship. It is time that people were held to account, or at the very least explain themselves.’” And so the barrel-scraping continued.

“Ex-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries joined the calls for an independent investigation … 'How did that young boy, so young, get a job at ITV? What were the processes involved? What was the safeguarding in place for someone so young at that age?’” He was 18 when he started work for ITV.

The fragrant Nadine seems to have no problem with the irretrievably corrupt figure of disgraced former occasional Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who appears to have been on good terms with a series of much younger women, one of whom is now his third wife. Bozo has been shown to be a congenital and shameless liar, but hey ho.

Millions of Britons have no interest in what happens behind the scenes at ITV. They are hard at work, in call centres, cleaning, waiting on table, delivering take-aways, on the road with lorry loads of goods, looking after elderly and disabled people, nursing, driving buses and trains, out there on building sites, mending the plumbing, fixing cars and vans, keeping the country moving.

The Sun and Mail have no interest in them. Because they are not newspapers. News is not their game. Propaganda, monstering, bullying and otherwise working over their targets, stoking hatred against minorities, smearing those they judge do not have the means to fight back, and otherwise exercising more Power Without Responsibility. That’s their game.

They showed what they are. Believe them that one time. But don’t buy them.

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Saturday 27 May 2023

Mail Cancel Culture Hypocrisy

The claims from the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press that they, along with their hangers-on, are somehow fighting a lone yet valiant battle against the myth that is Cancel Culture, and for freedom of speech, has been, is, and will continue to be the most grotesque rewriting of reality. Today’s edition of the Mail takes that to a new level, and adds a little incitement.

You f***ing looking at me, c***?!?!?

This is achieved by, as so often with the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, talking well, but lying badly. But first, the hypocrisy: after now former ITV host Phillip Schofield was confronted by the Mail, which was about to expose his affair with a much younger man, the paper, along with the Murdoch Sun and others, gleefully put the boot in on him.

They viciously and deliberately joined in cancelling Schofield, who has now been ditched by ITV, ditched by his agent, and is therefore fair game for a press pack that does not care about the wellbeing of its targets. Then the Mail declared itself to be “Fighting Cancel Culture” and “Standing Up For Free Speech”. As so often, only the free speech the Mail approves is fought for.

Such as that of businessman John Allan, of whom most of the Mail’s readers will not have heard, and about whom they won’t care. He has stepped down as chairman of retailer Tesco following a series of allegations made about his conduct. The Mail cares deeply about his plight, or rather, it pretends to do, but only as long as he remains useful to their campaign of hatred.

There is no witch hunt

Yes, hatred, not of Allen, but of those who the Mail wants to get at through use of his story. Also, the Mail can’t be sexist, as it got a woman to interview the businessman. So who are the targets? The Rotten Lefties™ in the media, who in reality are in a tiny minority compared to those out there on the right, and those supposedly Radical Feminists™ who do not know their place.

Also claiming to be in support of free speech while whipping up a little more hatred is the supremely selective Guy Adams, whose target is Trans rights activists. Don’t Trans people have the same rights as everyone else? And if the Mail believes they should not, perhaps it could say so. Meanwhile, Adams has the Oxford Union in his sights, because they are hosting a debate.

And, so what? Isn’t that the kind of thing the Oxford Union does? Ah, but Adams wants Mail readers to know that “People may be staying away from the Union out of fear”. And they may not. Have another go. “Students ‘are plotting to throw milkshakes at those queuing’”. Someone has made a claim that cannot be stood up. “Guy Adams Investigates”. But only selectively.

But these are mere Hors d’Oeuvres for a much more pungent Entrée, that being an exercise in straightforward incitement backed up by a series of flat-out lies from the pen of talentless and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn. Alongside a graphic depicting a blooded dagger, readers are told “NOTHING LESS THAN A COUP IS TAKING PLACE IN BRITAIN”. It is?

No, it isn’t: that’s just another Dicky Windbag lie. He gets away with this as complaints can be batted off with the excuse that it’s “just an opinion column” and readers should not expect what they read to be factually correct. Which is most fortunate, because the claim of “the rolling coup currently taking place against this Conservative Government” is also a flat-out lie.

It’s yet another attempt to blame someone else for the ineptitude of the Tories under a series of Prime Ministers. Littlejohn tells us “The ultra-woke civil service [he wouldn’t know what ‘woke’ means] and renegade Tories still loyal to the EU [he won’t be naming one - that would be defamation] are working to destroy an elected Government”. Which is another flat-out lie.

There is more. “Aided and abetted by the unions and Left-wing media [lying again - he’s just inventing more demons]. Even worse, this malign New Establishment [there is no such thing. More lying] is clearly winning”. No. Just no. The only winning being done is the Tories succeeding in making themselves look even worse. This is malicious invention.

That anyone employed in the civil service might be best advised watching their back from now on was emphasised by the claim “Civil servants strain every sinew to obstruct ministers”. Which they don’t. Enough. Richard Littlejohn, it should never be forgotten, is so loyal to the UK that he has lived in a gated compound in Vero Beach, Florida for some years now.

There is no witch-hunt. But there is the grotesque spectacle of a major national newspaper indulging in whipping up the mob against yet more people unable to defend themselves from the wackos who pass copy like this round far-right message boards. As Stop Funding Hate noted, “the Daily Mail is *by far* the most shared publication within far-right Telegram channels”.

Do we have to have a body count before this stops? Hello Paul Dacre.

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Friday 26 May 2023

Murdoch Fails To Dismiss Nemesis

Our free and fearless press, and especially the Murdoch and Associated Newspapers titles, has been hoping that a judge would throw out attempts by claimants including actor and campaigner Hugh Grant, and similar claims by Prince Harry and others, to see them in court over allegations of illegal information gathering, including blagging, bugging, and burglary.

Evening all

The defence presented by the Murdoch and ANL titles, for which read the Sun and Mail, has rested on the six-year limit having passed. Counter to that is the assertion that claims could not have been brought because those making the claims did not have the evidence before them until the six years had passed. Today at the High Court, we got the moment of truth.

And, as PA Media’s Twitter feed told us, “A damages claim brought by actor Hugh Grant against the publisher of The Sun will go ahead to a trial following a ruling by a High Court judge”, noting “Mr Grant is bringing legal action alleging he was targeted by journalists and private investigators against News Group Newspapers (NGN) in relation to The Sun only”. The BBC had more.

A judge has dismissed an attempt from News Group Newspapers (NGN) to block his legal action because he did not bring it within six years … The actor claims private investigators working for the Sun tapped his phone, bugged his house and car, and burgled his home to get stories about him … The publisher denies the claims”. Hugh Grant’s statement goes further.

He said the company had a ‘vast, long-lasting and deliberate policy strategy plan of false denials and other concealment in relation to The Sun, to prevent me, and others in a similar position, from bringing claims against them’ … This included, he said, false denials to the Leveson Inquiry into Press Standards, a press complaints body, and in public statements”. Ouch!

Do go on. “Cases of this kind in the civil courts have to be brought within six years, and this time limitation has become a major legal battleground in cases against newspapers, because allegations of wrongdoing often go back 30 years. Publishers attempt to argue that cases should not go to trial because alleged victims of unlawful news gathering delayed their legal action”.

However, “Mr Justice Fancourt said, in his judgment, Mr Grant had long believed that private investigators had been paid to look into his private life … However it was only in 2021 when News Group Newspapers disclosed invoices for their payments that Mr Grant had potential evidence capable of allowing him to win his case in court”. Which means what, exactly?

This judgment does not mean the issue of whether Mr Grant's claim is too late has been decided, but it will now be considered at the trial next year … The judge said there was a realistic chance the actor would establish at trial that before seeing this evidence ‘he could not reasonably have believed with sufficient confidence that he may have been targeted by … the Sun’”.

As is customary nowadays, the BBC and Guardian have reported this news, while most of the rest of our free and fearless press has not, with the sole exception of a magnificent piece of misinformation from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, which suggests Grant lost.

Seizing on this aspect of the BBC report: “the court refused Mr Grant permission to sue NGN for allegedly hacking his phone voicemails, as the judge ruled he could have brought a case much earlier”, the Tel announced “Hugh Grant has been denied the chance to take phone hacking claims against the publisher of the Sun newspaper to trial, a judge has ruled”.

Quite apart from misinforming its readers, the Tel managed to miss this rather important line from the Beeb report: “A similar legal argument centred on the claims of the Duke of Sussex is due to be heard by the High Court in July”. Harry is not the only one: the action also features claims by Elton John, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost, David Furnish, and Doreen Lawrence.

It also, whisper it quietly, includes claims against the Mail titles. Small wonder there has been no comment from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, no comment from former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, and nothing from Desperate Dan Wootton, who is too busy spreading malicious misinformation about Haz and Megs.

They think it’ll go away. It won’t. Judgment for the press moves ever closer.

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Thursday 25 May 2023

Conman Loses Libel Suit

Today brought the all too predictable news from the BBC: “Naturalist Chris Packham has won his libel claim against a website that alleged he misled people into donating to a tiger rescue charity. The presenter sued in the High Court over articles published on the Country Squire Magazine website”. And this website is edited by whom, exactly? As if you need to ask.

Winner: Chris Packham

It is the domain of serial shyster and con artist Dominic Wightman, who was believed to have been behind the first version of the “Traitors’ Chart”, a fabrication which momentarily conned those at the Murdoch Sun and was the basis for an article under the by-line of former non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn. The lawyers, it seems, ordered it to be pulled.

Wightman’s other scalps include then-Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who not long after that particular sting became an ex-MP. Another gullible mark was pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. But when his online magazine went after Packham, Wightman soon discovered that he had targeted someone with the means to sue. Packham duly sued. And Packham has now won.

However, and here we encounter a seriously sized however, as I warned last year, Wightman is infamous for leaving a trail of bad debts in his wake. And the bill for legal fees is likely to be well into six figures, in addition to the £90,000 in damages awarded to Packham and against Wightman and his co-defendant. But enough: let’s see what happened at trial.

As the BBC report continues, “‘Mr Packham did not commit any acts of fraud or dishonesty,’ the judge said in his 58-page judgment … ‘Mr Packham did not lie and each of his own statements was made with a genuine belief in its truth … There was no fraud of any type committed by him in making the fundraising statements.'’’ The judge’s words for Wightman were harsher.

He and his co-defendant did not “come even close to establishing the substantial truth … Rather than approaching the task with an investigative mind, these defendants targeted Mr Packham as a person against whom they had an agenda … Any investigative journalism quickly gave way… to increasingly hyperbolic and vitriolic smearing of Mr Packham”.

Loser: Dominic Wightman (photo (c) Rob Todd)

Also, Wightman and his co-defendant “had ‘used this litigation as a device to introduce offensive material to smear Mr Packham’ … He added: ‘The tone descended into sinister threats and outright vitriol, including offensive references to Mr Packham's neurodiversity, and abuse of (solicitors) Leigh Day … These were not the product of any acts of responsible journalism’”.

Packham ended up fearing that someone believing the tirade of abuse emanating from Country Squire might rock up at his home or accost him in the street. This is alluded to by Matthew Sweet, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, who musedI’ve read materials associated with this case and the false allegations were so extreme and disgusting that the judge declined to repeat them in the summary”. He had more to say about Country Squire.

The magazine involved in this case publishes whackadoodle nonsense about the Rothschilds and Ukraine and ‘colour programming’. As a connoisseur of whackadoodle nonsense I award this a gold star”. He also unearthed something called the Workers of England Union.

Which, he concluded, was “Part of the Right Said Fred/Icke conspiracy brains trust”. And this time, the fantasy world of Dominic Wightman has met the real world and come off second best. But in his moment of victory, Chris Packham cannot rest: he has to make sure Wightman pays up. This is, after all, someone who has previously been declared bankrupt.

Maybe he’ll think twice before smearing and lying again. Just a thought.

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Wednesday 24 May 2023

Bozo, Lying, And Client Journalism

And so it came to pass that Rishi Sunak’s exchange with his ethics advisor appeared to have brought the desired result: there will be no further action against Clouseau-like Home Secretary Suella Braverman for what looks like a breach of the ministerial code. This is most fortuitous for two reasons: keeping her pals on side, and clearing the decks for the next shitshow.

And what a shitshow it is shaping up to be: disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has been referred to the Police over potential lawbreaking at Chequers during the Covid-19 lockdown. This happened because Bozo, being an insufferable tightwad, got Sunak’s Government to pay his legal bills for the Covid inquiry.

In an excellent example of unintended consequences, the Government picking up Bozo’s legal tab made them the client. The lawyers got hold of Bozo’s diary and were obliged to pass on any potential illegality to the cops. It looks like family and friends were invited to Chequers during lockdown. This was Streng Verboten under Bozo’s own rules. Hence the Police referral.

As the Guardian has reported, “The Metropolitan and Thames Valley police forces have confirmed they are considering the evidence of potential lockdown breaches between June 2020 and May 2021 at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, and allegations about Johnson’s behaviour in Downing Street over the same period”. Bozo’s office has responded.

Mr Johnson’s lawyers have tonight written to the police forces involved to explain in detail why the Cabinet Office is entirely wrong in its assertions … The events in question were all within the rules either because they were held outdoors or came within another lawful exception. They include regular meetings with civil servants and advisers”. Of course they did.

The problem for Sunak, and indeed anyone who wants to get to the facts of the matter, is that for the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, the view still remains that Bozo may be an SOB, but he’s their SOB. So, overnight, we have seen some highly creative client journalism, along with the kind of behaviour that would see lesser mortals in Police custody.

The Daily Brexit, still called the Express, went in to bat for Bozo today, howling “Friends and allies condemn Partygate ‘vendetta’ waged against ex-PM … IT’S A STITCH-UP! BORIS FACES NEW POLICE PROBE INTO RULE-BREAKING”. Lawbreaking has been downgraded into mere rule-breaking, along with that modern tendency of client journalists.

That, to use Peter Oborne’s happy phrase, is that sources are not interrogated, but what they brief the press is just “shovelled on”. It’s obvious that this line and its accompanying assertions have come either directly or indirectly from The Man Himself. Johnson is a congenital liar, and it’s always someone else’s fault. The same paw-prints are all over the Mail lead, too.

There, we see the variation “Ex-PM livid as civil servants call in Police over lockdown diaries … BORIS THREATENS TO SUE CABINET OFFICE FOR COVID ‘STITCH-UP’”. And, surprise, surprise, “Sources close to Mr Johnson said he had already had legal advice that none of the events broke Covid rules. A friend said he was ‘seriously considering’ legal action”.

Bullshit. That’s Bullshit. For those at the back who may not have been paying attention, BULLSHIT. “Sources close to Mr Johnson” and “A friend” are Bozo himself, or someone so close to him as to make no difference. And, as Steven Swinford, political editor of the Murdoch Times, made clear in a series of Twitter interventions, the cops should be doing more than just looking.

Boris Johnson allies up the ante and warn they will obstruct Rishi Sunak’s government unless he intervened to stop what they see as a ‘witch hunt’ … They say it’s the ‘final straw’ for Johnson and warn that MPs and members supportive of former PM will begin organising”. Over to the Secret Barrister.

Putting pressure on the Prime Minister to intervene in a police investigation sounds awfully ‘conspiracy to pervert the course of justice’-y”. So it does. And Swinford had more. “Boris ally: ‘Boris has been supporting govt but this act is final straw … ’There are a growing number of MPs who want party leadership to act to stop these witch hunts and a group of MPs will meet today to consider options. Meanwhile members across country are being organised’”.

We go from an almost certain series of flat-out lies to one that is nailed on: “Boris Johnson’s allies claim that the decision to refer him to the police was signed off by senior ministers … They said the ministers had direct knowledge of what was happening … This is denied by cabinet office and Govt, which say there was no ministerial involvement at all”. Correct.

One pack of lies after another. Blaming others. And it’s all about Himself Personally Now. Worse, we have a series of supposedly serious journalists uncritically relaying Bozo’s tantrums as if they were unvarnished truth. Now we’re being told he’s sacking one lot of lawyers and appointing another, to be paid for by the Government. So the same obligations still apply.

Stop treating this clown seriously. Do some actual journalism. End of story.

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Tuesday 23 May 2023

Braverman - Stop Dithering, PM

In the 1976 comedy film The Pink Panther Strikes Again, one recurring joke is the reluctance of the British Police Superintendent (Leonard Rossiter) to call Paris and have inept Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) recalled. He reasons with his team that things can’t get any worse, they then get worse, and the suggestion is put once more: “Want to call Paris now?”

Oh SHIT ... might really get the boot this time

Rishi Sunak probably hasn’t seen that one, but he is in a very similar position to that fictional Superintendent right now, with his own version of Clouseau, nominal Home Secretary Suella Braverman, having gaffe after gaffe exposed by our free and fearless press, who are giving the impression that they don’t believe her position is tenable. Yet he keeps putting off sacking her.

Overnight, the last act of ineptitude we knew about concerned Ms Braverman getting herself a speeding fine and then allegedly using her own civil servants to try and get herself a one-on-one speed awareness course, having been offered the usual course variant, seeing that she would have been part of a group, making excuses about security, and hence the allegation.

Use of civil service resources for the personal benefit of Herself Personally Now would be a potential breach of the ministerial code. That’s the kind of thing that got her sacked by Liz Truss during the latter’s signally disastrous but thankfully brief premiership. That was bad, but thanks to Lizzie Dearden of the Independent, we now have another gaffe to add to the pile.

The revelation had to wait while the Indy and its staff covered the overnight disturbance in the Ely district of Cardiff, but now we know. “Suella Braverman is facing fresh allegations of ministerial code breaches over her failure to formally disclose previous work with the Rwandan government … She was the director of a charity training its lawyers for five years”. Do go on.

The home secretary co-founded a charity called the Africa Justice Foundation with Cherie Blair, which trained Rwandan government lawyers between 2010 and 2015 … Several people the charity worked with are now key members of President Paul Kagame’s government and are involved in the UK’s £140m deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda”. Whoops!

There was more. “Ms Braverman did not officially disclose her previous links to the country when appointed home secretary in 2022, despite the deal being a lynchpin of the government’s migration policy and ongoing legal challenges alleging politically-driven human rights violations including torture, murder and kidnappings”. And who would like to comment on this one?

I theught you said your deug did not bite

One former minister told The Independent that the home secretary ‘never mentioned’ her work with the charity and should have been ‘upfront and transparent’, while two former standards chiefs said Ms Braverman should have formally disclosed her former role”. And more. A lot more.

Ms Braverman resigned from her post as director of the Africa Justice Foundation weeks before being elected to parliament, and did not declare her previous role to Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft last year … A source close to the home secretary said it was not necessary for her to disclose her previous work, adding: ‘This was charity work carried out by Ms Braverman before she was an MP, and for which she wasn’t paid.’

So what? The potential for corruption is in the category of the bleeding obvious. Hence “Sir Alistair Graham, former head of the Committee of Standards on Public Life, [said] ‘If the Rwanda policy was there when she produced a declaration of interest, and did not include it, then I would have thought that could be a breach of the ministerial code’”. Indeed.

Instead, though, we get “look over there - it was unpaid”. Back to the Indy: “Records obtained by The Independent show that the charity received more than £300,000 in donations and spent the bulk of the funding on a scholarship scheme seeing Rwandan government lawyers sent to British universities”.

With the result that “By the time Ms Braverman resigned her directorship in 2015, Rwandan media reported that 19 alumni were serving in government institutions including the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister and Rwanda Law Reform Commission, and research by The Independent shows that some now hold senior posts in the country’s Ministry of Justice”. Of course she should have disclosed her involvement.

What is Rishi Sunak waiting for? Another gaffe, then another? Sack her. Now.

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Monday 22 May 2023

Braverman Defenders' Own Goal

As Rishi Sunak continues to prevaricate over Home Secretary Suella Braverman and whether she broke the ministerial code by tasking her Civil Servants with attempts to arrange a one-on-one speed awareness course, with his latest delaying tactic being to ask his ethics advisor to rule on the matter, it is clear Ms Braverman herself is rattled, and badly.

Sadly for her, the tactic that would be deployed in order to dissuade further enquiries from our free and fearless press was let slip by those still prepared to put up with the work environment at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph: “Braverman ‘smear’ fears over curbs on migrants … Speeding fine row is concerted effort to discredit her” tells the headline.

Says who? Don’t laugh too loudly: “say Home Secretary’s allies”. Which almost certainly means Herself Personally Now. Those who remember her appearing on BBC Question Time and claiming that any criticism of her party being funded by Russian money was racist will recognise her fingerprints on that one. Pity about the own goal later in the article (read to the end).

As John Stevens at the Mirror has told readers ofThe FOUR TIMES Suella Braverman's aide denied she'd been done for speeding - transcript … A transcript shows that the Home Secretary's special adviser insisted it was ‘nonsense’ that she'd been done for speeding when contacted by the Mirror six weeks ago”, Ms Braverman was making less and less sense.

She arrived at 10 Downing Street and was quizzed on that speed awareness course, responding that she was there to “stop the boats”. Then, as Pippa Crerar of the Guardian observed, “Suella Braverman tells MPs: ‘Last summer I was speeding, I regret that. I paid the fine and took the penalty. At no point did I attempt to evade sanction’. (That's not the allegation, it's that she asked officials to arrange a private driving awareness course)”. Indeed.

But it was Paul Waugh of the i Paper who had the most comprehensive and indeed most damning news. “Some MP[s] think [Rishi Sunak is] micromanaging her [department because] he doesn't trust her to do her job properly … One former minister who worked with Braverman tells me: ‘I don’t often say people are completely useless, but if her desk had not been occupied I wouldn’t have noticed’”.That won’t be stopping many boats, then.

There was more. “Suella Braverman says ‘at no point did I seek to evade the sanction’ of speeding penalty points. She says Labour only asking the Q to distract from its failure to back Govt re paedophiles/migration”.

See last paragraph of headline article for howler

And more. “Pressed by [Yvette Cooper] whether she authorised her special adviser to deny she had a committed a speeding offence, [Suella Braverman] signally refuses to answer the question … Asked at least 4 times now if she asked civil servants to find her a private speed awareness course, [she] again refuses to answer. Replies with almost exactly the same formula”.

So how does the Tel spin this? “Miriam Cates, a Tory MP and ally of Mrs Braverman, said it was ‘extremely worrying’ that the Home Secretary was being subjected to personal attacks and ‘a concerted effort to discredit her’ in a similar way to last October. 'It is no coincidence that it’s in the same week that she had been very vocal about the need to put proper limits on legal migration which is clearly a contentious issue in Government’”. Do go on.

She has had a lot of profile and prominence. There are many people who don’t agree with her view that we should limit legal immigration. If you put two and two together, it is perfectly possible it’s politically motivated. It is shocking anyone would leak this private information”. Paranoid, much?

And Ms Cates wasn’t the only one seeing Dark Forces at work. “Craig Mackinlay, another Tory MP, said: ‘It wasn’t at all unreasonable for a Home Secretary to do what she has asked. I see nothing wrong with that. I would call that fairly good common sense and then decide to take the points.’" But he made no sense at all. Except to be sure she’d done nothing wrong.

Then the Tel sold the pass. “Mrs Braverman was issued with a speeding notice by police last year after being caught outside London when she was attorney general … She was offered the choice of paying the fine and receiving three points, attending a speed awareness course in lieu of points and the fine or challenging the speeding notice. It was at this point that she asked civil servants if a private course could be arranged” [My emphasis].

Her defenders have answered the question put several times this afternoon in the Commons. The Telegraph has asserted that she asked civil servants if a private speed awareness course could be arranged. So either she’s going to demand the paper pull that comment, or she’s bang to rights.

Oh what a giveaway! Maybe the Tel sacked too many staff. Just a thought.

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Sunday 21 May 2023

Suella Braverman - Time To Go

Time was when Tory MPs like Daniel Kawczynski were reprimanded for attending the National Conservatism conference, given the nationalist and indeed racist aspects of such gatherings. But despite this year’s event featuring appalling bigots like Doug Murray The K, there was no rap on the knuckles for Home Secretary Suella Braverman when she rocked up there.

Another day, another mishap

No doubt the Tory leadership would like this to be seen as their being tolerant and broad-minded, rather than Rishi Sunak being weak, and his party ranks devoid of credible replacements. Sadly for him, hardly had that little local difficulty passed from view than Ms Braverman was splashed across the front page of the Murdoch Sunday Times, and for all the wrong reasons.

Braverman asked Civil Servants to help her avoid speeding fine” was the wording that caused Sunak another heap of trouble that he could do without, as well as confirming that the Murdoch mafiosi show every sign of not only concluding that the Tories will lose the next General Election, but also that they may be done with giving The Blue Team their unequivocal backing.

As the story was out there well before first editions had to be “put to bed”, the magpies at the Mail on Sunday decided they would run with the story, rather than join the herd crowing at the departure of Phillip Schofield from ITV weekday offering This Morning. But it wouldn’t be the MoS without demoting the news to mere “row” status, as well as keeping up the personality cult.

Hence “Row as Home Secretary is accused of asking officials to set up private driving awareness course after breaking limit … SUELLA ‘TRIED TO COVER UP’ SPEEDING OFFENCE”. There is no “row”. Ms Braverman (as opposed to the gushing “Suella”) was caught speeding. She was given the option of taking the fine and three penalty points, or doing a course.

However, and this is a significantly sized however, the course, on speed awareness, would have been as part of a group. As the BBC has reported, “She tried to arrange a one-on-one course through civil servants and her adviser, the BBC has been told … A government source told the BBC the senior minister had been ‘concerned’ about her insurance premiums, and favoured doing a course”. But here a problem entered.

She asked civil servants about arranging a course for just her, citing security concerns about doing one as part of a group, but was told it was not a matter for the civil service … Mrs Braverman then asked a special adviser to try to arrange a one-on-one course”. Security? We already knew she got caught.

But do go on. “When the course provider told her there was no option to do a private course - and after she was reappointed home secretary in Mr Sunak's government - she opted to pay the fine and accept the points because she was ‘very busy’ and did not have the time to do a course, the BBC has been told”. Doesn’t make sense. She wasn’t too busy for a one-on-on course.

Moreover, the impression is given that the ministerial code has been broken once again. LBC host James O’Brien was unimpressed: “Braverman’s speeding fine is literally nothing to do with the civil service. Even her highly dubious defence - that she was enquiring about the general availability of one-on-one awareness courses - involves her asking public servants on taxpayer’s time about her personal issues”. And then it got worse.

As Adam Bienkov of Byline Times observed, “Both Rishi Sunak and Therese Coffey stonewalling questions about Suella Braverman breaking the ministerial code by asking officials to help her avoid a speeding fine, by saying they ‘don't have the details’ … The story broke yesterday afternoon. Of course they have the details”. A given before the Sunday morning TV round.

Would Sir care to show some leadership, perchance?

Then it got worse still as it was revealed that someone had been lying. “Suella Braverman's team originally denied she'd got [a] speeding ticket … Raises troubling questions about the government's dealings with journalists” noted Daily Mirror political editor John Stevens. Would he care to expand?

He certainly would. “The Mirror contacted the Home Secretary about the driving offence six weeks ago … Her Tory special adviser insisted she had not been done for speeding and accused her political enemies of spreading misinformation … We now know that was false”. By this time, Mrs T would have sacked Ms Braverman. And the SpAd. So why is she still in post?

Sunak has to sack her, or he isn’t in control. And that’s not good enough.

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Saturday 20 May 2023

Energy Bill Propaganda Won’t Work

The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press is looking down the barrel of a gun marked Labour Victory: this has spooked it in serious measure and the resultant panic can be seen in today’s front pages. They may be able to manipulate Keir Starmer; they may not. It’s the uncertainty they don’t want, the thought that trifles like democracy could loose their hold on the UK.

Hence today’s headlines, with the Mail, and the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, leading the way. Energy bills may at long last be about to fall, although they would still be at a level way above what they were when the supposedly wonderful Tory party headed up by Young Dave and his jolly good chaps wormed its way into what was then mere coalition back in 2010.

The Express goes with “ENERGY BILLS TO TUMBLE”, while the Mail, which pays better and employs more hacks, manages more words as it tells “With European gas prices dropping back to levels not seen since before Ukraine war … ENERGY BILLS TO FALL £450 AS CAP IS SLASHED”.

Do go on. “HOUSEHOLDS will soon see energy bills fall by £450 in a fresh sign the worst of the cost of living squeeze is nearing an end”. Both papers juxtapose this alleged news with photos of disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and third wife Carrie, the latter in the advanced stages of pregnancy. The message is straightforward: it’s OK to vote Tory again, and don’t forget that victory back in 2019.

However, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the media establishment still sees Bozo as an asset to his party. He is not. Johnson almost fouled up London, with Sadiq Khan - much vilified by many right-wing pundits for trying to sort out the mess he inherited - being pilloried for actually wanting to improve matters. Bozo is forever tainted by Partygate.

And two, just for all those obscenely overpaid hacks and pundits who don’t have to worry about such trivia, energy bills are not the only worry for those actually inhabiting the real world outside the media’s hermetically sealed bubble. There is still galloping food price inflation, lack of affordable housing, tuition fee debt, and the decline in so many of our town centres.

That’s before those swing voters at whom this lame propaganda is being targeted consider Tory attempts to remove the right to protest, the voter ID rule which was all too obviously intended as a form of disenfranchisement, the cruel, crude and wasteful attempts to demonise refugees, and a disturbing lurch towards the far right and nationalist bigotry.

On top of all of that comes the continuing fallout from Brexit, with more and more of those who were conned into voting Leave realising they’ve been had and the only way to recover the mess is going to be, sooner or later, to ask the EU nicely if they might be cool with us rejoining the Single Market. Because until and unless we do, the UK is irredeemably screwed.

None of that, of course, appears on those unpersuasive front pages. That’s because the intention is to garner votes for the Tories, and the press can’t do that by admitting the truth. Worse, their spin is increasingly irrelevant: the Tories are now revisiting the mid-90s, when nothing they could do would lift their poll ratings off the floor - more and more voters have had enough.

Worse still, the economy was doing far better in the run-up to the Tory drubbing in 1997 than it is now. But no amount of good news could have saved John Major. Not after all the sleaze revelations. Now, there is not only sleaze, but rampant corruption and a blatant contempt for the general public - exemplified by their hero Bozo turning 10 Downing Street into Party Central.

Finally, another thought enters: the vast majority of voters are not fools. A point will come, with the certainty of night following day, when more and more of them will realise that following the press’ bidding has impoverished them, and impoverished their country. Voting Tory, voting Leave and voting Bozo has screwed them over. They won’t forget that come the next election.

The press will have to do better if it wants another Tory election victory. The good news is they most likely can’t. Just rejoice at that news.

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Friday 19 May 2023

Net Zero Price Hike Story UNTRUE

It is not only those trying to smear anyone that incurs the displeasure of our free and fearless press who practice bad faith journalism which verges on flat-out lying and rank propaganda: today’s main headline from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph shows that the yellow press tendency has spread to bad mouthing the move to cleaner energy.

Net Zero drive will add £120 to energy bills … Commons backlash over £3.5 billion scheme backing hydrogen production” tells the paper. We do not get to find out what kind of “backing” the Government is giving to hydrogen production. But we soon see the certainty of that headline diluted, as the “will add” is toned down. Because the Tel can’t stand up that claim.

Household energy bills are set to rise by nearly £120 a year to fund the development of hydrogen gas, under the Government’s net zero plans”. So it’s now “set to rise” and “nearly” £120 a year. Do go on. “Costs could be added on to household bills from 2025 on top of subsidies for other green energy such as wind farms, under provisions in the new Energy Bill”.

Now these costs, whatever they turn out to be, “could” be added. But then again, they could not. Have another go. “The extra levy could add £118 to annual household bills - a 10 per cent increase on dual fuel bills, according to new analysis from centre-Right think tank Onward”. “Could add”. But perhaps it couldn’t. And then we see a “centre-right think tank” called Onward.

What the Tel appears to have missed in all this excitement is that Onward’s “founders state that Onward would operate in the mainstream of conservative politics, and is a reaction to the ‘lack of energy on the centre right’. It is explicitly aligned to the Conservative Party and is not a charity” as Wikipedia explains. It is chaired by Danny Finkelstein, who is a Tory peer.

Let’s have more from that explainer: “According to the Financial Times, Onward was launched in May 2018 at an event in which then Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and then environment secretary Michael Gove gave speeches, and Onward’s stated mission is to generate a ‘new wave of modernising ideas’ and ‘a fresh kind of politics that reaches out to new groups of people’”. New wave of Tory propaganda, more like.

So we have a dishonestly slanted article citing a partial lobby group. Can the Tel make it three bad faith strikes in a row? It certainly can. “Conservative backbenchers are expected to table amendments to the Energy Bill in a bid to force Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, into a U-turn”. Which back benchers?

Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said many Tory MPs were opposed to No 10’s ‘socialist energy agenda’”. Ah, the Net Zero Scrutiny Group. The group of climate change denialists that uses alleged “research” from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group that, to no surprise at all, specialises in climate change denial and misinformation.

So what else does blowhard Mackinlay have to tell us? “The thought of more levies to try and pick winners that are unproven and in my view unsound just continues what we’ve seen in the whole field of energy policy, which seems more reminiscent of the 1950s Soviet Union that we used to laugh at”. More levies that the Tel just invented in this circle jerk of a climate denial article.

What else does this fellow have to tell us? “We need markets back in control of energy policy because governments are making a complete mess of it. I sense there is concern about all these kinds of policies among colleagues”. So, as the market price of, for instance, gas has fallen far from its peak last year, is he going to lobby for a cut in household energy bills? As if.

Did anyone else speak? John Redwood (no, don’t laugh) declared “The last thing we want is another government-imposed hike in the price of energy. UK households are suffering a hit to their living standards and business is being driven out of Britain. We need a rollback of taxes and subsidies on energy and we need a big expansion of domestic capacity”. Doesn’t make sense.

Domestic capacity of what? And why is he unwittingly talking about Brexit? But enough: these bad faith claims get worked into “stories” with headlines that the article cannot back up, with comments from partisan lobby groups and reality averse here today and gone tomorrow politicians. Then (for instance) the magpies at Mail Online give the spurious claims more reach.

Climate change is real. Net Zero will happen, sooner or later. That is all.

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Thursday 18 May 2023

Piers Morgan - Shame On You

Not so long ago, Prince Harry considered the less than totally ethical, honest and good faith reportage dished out to his wife and concluded that our free and fearless press would only desist from the constant barrage of hateful knocking copy when she was dead. In this, he immediately struck an echo of what happened to Diana, and their relentless pursuit of her.

Evening all

Then came an incident with further echoes of Diana: Haz and Megs attended an awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday evening. As the BBC has reported, “Prince Harry, Meghan and her mother were involved in a ‘near catastrophic car chase’ involving paparazzi, a spokesperson for the couple claimed”. The chase happened after they left the event. There was more.

And what's more, Ron ...

In a statement, their spokesperson said the ‘relentless pursuit’ lasted for more than two hours and resulted in ‘multiple near collisions’ … The NYPD confirmed an incident took place involving Harry and Meghan and said numerous photographers ‘made their transport challenging’”. Even Mail Online has since taken down photos that were taken during the pursuit.

At one point, the couple used a Yellow Cab to try and shake off the paparazzi, having by this time taken refuge in a Police Station, but this idea was abandoned after ten minutes. The taxi driver said that in his opinion Haz and Megs were not in any danger during that ten minute segment of the two hour whole, and this was enough for a particular sick media obsession to restart.

To no surprise at all, former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, now for some reason being paid an obscene amount of money to broadcast to very few viewers on Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkTV, was not backward in coming forward to continue his sneering dismissal of anything and everything from the Sussexes’ camp, and with the usual lack of style.

Off he went. “Hmmm … A tale of two statements … one from the Sussexes, the other from the NYPD. One says 'near-catastrophic', the other says 'challenging' but no significant incident. Are recollections varying again? We'll have all the latest on [The All New Percy Moron Show] live at 8pm”. So he’s already one step from calling liar on the Sussexes.

This despite the two statements being not necessarily exclusive of one another. Then came the taxi driver’s statement, which to no surprise at all was taken out of context. It only took another Tweeter to claim that a two hour chase in central Manhattan was unlikely for the mask to slip: “There was no 2-hour chase, their story is unravelling by the minute”. LIAR! LIAR!!

And just to wrap up this latest sad chapter in Morgan’s obsession with the Duchess, he “interviewed” the taxi driver. Who was involved for ten minutes out of two hours. The same Piers Morgan who claimed to be pals with Diana, though what is being alleged in the latest court action suggests that she, like so many who came into contact with The Great Man, was not really a friend.

But he is confirming what Haz had claimed. The sneering, shouting down, and above all the sick obsession are so much part of Piers Morgan’s DNA that he will not be able to stop himself, no matter how much danger the couple and Meg’s Mum were in, no matter how close it all came to physical contact between the vehicles involved, no matter how close to injuries, or worse, they or their pursuers came. He is that far gone.

All that it takes is for one of his followers with a few hundred Twitter followers and who may well have paid for their blue tick to gainsay the Sussexes, and the red mist descends even further. Sad to say, though, that his piss-poor ratings mean hardly anyone sees the meltdown, and even fewer care.

An obsession that won’t stop until there is a body count. Sad but true.

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Tuesday 16 May 2023

Nigel Farage Is Leaving The Country

So certain was he that Brexit would be a runaway success, former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage made clear that, in the event of Brexit failing, he would be a runaway himself. He would leave the country, no doubt to the great relief of all those who wished it had happened rather earlier. He was equally certain he would not need to deliver on this.

But that was then, and this is now: yesterday evening, removed from the comfort zone of his bully pulpit on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), and placed before the inquisition of Victoria Derbyshire, presenting BBC Newsnight, Farage floundered. She reeled off the bad news; he initially batted it back with the usual comment that Someone Else Done It.

This talk will evoke hollow laughter from many who witnessed the 1990s shitshow that was rail sell-off - and its aftermath. Farage blamed the bad news on others? Like all those who said that if the railways had been sold off properly, for which read irretrievably fouled up, rather than only badly fouled up but just about recoverable, all would have been well. No it wouldn’t.

But Ms Derbyshire’s persistence eventually ground down the Farage façade, and then came the admission: “Brexit has failed”. Which provoked this response from LBC host James O’Brien: “The most grimly stubborn skidmark on the underpants of British politics. I know you can’t believe a word he says but he promised to leave the country in the event of Brexit failing”.

So, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, when’s he going, and where (Mr Thirsty is rumoured to already own property in at least one EU Member State), and Two, when are we going to see the rest of the Brexiteer punditerati follow suit, preferably followed by them apologising to the millions of Britons whose lives have become impoverished due to their antics?

After all, as Ms Derbyshire told Nige, “The UK economy is the only G7 economy not back to its pre-pandemic size … business investment has lagged behind comparable economies … economically, the UK would have been better staying in, wouldn’t it?” Come on Nige! “We haven’t benefited economically from Brexit, when we could have done”. This is bullshit.

What has happened since the UK’s departure from the EU, is continuing to happen, and will keep on happening in future, is the result of the UK effectively imposing economic sanctions on itself. There were no benefits to be had from Brexit; all was told over and over again before the 2016 referendum and dismissed by the Brexiteer fringe as “Project Fear”.

Farage did, along with the massed ranks of pundits and lobbyists typified by those who proudly gathered together at Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair on the eve of “Brexit Day” to celebrate their achievement in conspiring to lie to the electorate in order to, as they saw it, see off their opponents and therefore win the game. So they helped screw up their own country? No big deal.

No, I’m not suggesting that any or all of them are forcibly impoverished so they can experience first hand what their actions have forced on millions of their fellow citizens, or subjected to any punishment over and above general ridicule and public contempt. But it would be doing the decent thing to say sorry. Although they won’t. Because none of them gives a damn.

Farage has admitted it was a failure, so what of those who gathered together that evening at Brown’s Hotel? Like Julia Hartley Dooda, breakfast show host at Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkTV? What’s she said about Farage’s admission? Nothing. Not a sausage. Bugger all. Too busy stoking the boilers of the sham culture war. And she is hardly an isolated example.

The odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, still pretending to be a real journalist, has also somehow missed Nige’s admission. And what of Cole’s old boss, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines? One perusal of the Guido Fawkes blog answers that one: no comment. This blog did not call them The New Guilty Men And Women for nothing. Farage owned up. They won’t.

Because it’s always someone else’s fault. No change there, then.

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Monday 15 May 2023

Vote Rigging - My Arse

Discipline, if it ever existed at all, is breaking down within and around the Tory party and its hangers-on. Thus we have the unedifying sight of Government ministers and senior MPs attending and speaking today at an event staged by a foreign wacko far right lobby group: here, other speakers happily deploy Nazi-era anti-Semitic conspiracy theories like “Cultural Marxism”.

The event, the National Conservatism conference, features those talking about indoctrination, heritage, culture, and of course Western Civilisation. Meanwhile, the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, having seen the Tories unsuccessfully try and rig the local election voting by imposing compulsory ID, is accusing Labour of trying to, er, rig elections.

This, not for the first time, is a flat-out pack of lies - hence the Mail has put this particular R-Word in quote marks - but is also total crap. Labour, along with all other opposition parties, is not in power, and so is not about to “rig” anything. Also, with support for EU membership at around 60%, there would be no need to “rig” any future poll, which is the claim being made today.

But what the right-wing press is afraid to tell us is that there is one way in which elections across the UK have been effectively rigged for decades, and that is the First Past The Post system, which allows a party to win a majority of over 60 with just 35.2% of the vote (Labour in 2005). Perversely, the same party scored 40% of the popular vote in 2017, but 93 fewer seats.

FPTP, though, has one thing in its favour: the press, and any lobbyist worth buying, will back it to the hilt. Also, it favours parties like the Tories, and equally disfavours all smaller parties, especially the Greens. The press will harp on about the member-constituency link, which they claim with a straight face is sacrosanct. Sadly, most voters can’t name their MP.

Which shows that press claim was just more bad faith yellow journalism, another cheap distraction tactic. Like the claim that proportional voting systems are unnecessarily complex and difficult to understand, which is also total crap. Consider the d’Hondt system, used in several European countries, which, with multi-member constituencies, gives smaller parties a chance.

Voting takes place. In a multi-member area, the party with the largest vote share gets the first candidate on its list elected. Its Quotient is then increased by one - which means its percentage vote share for the next round is divided not by one, but two. The party that now has the highest percentage vote share gets someone from its list elected. Their Quotient goes up by one.

And so on, and so forth: those wanting to indulge in a little nerdery might usefully check out last year’s elections to Portugal’s National Assembly, the equivalent of our House of Commons. In areas returning very few Deputados (equivalent to MPs), d’Hondt does not work so well: hence the centre-left PS managed to (just) take both seats in mainly rural Portalegre.

It works much better in the big cities: the smaller parties are well represented in Lisbon and Porto, and areas such as Setúbal, which is basically the port city plus “across the river from Lisbon”. Sadly, this proportional system also allows parties like Chega, headed by Farage-lite loudmouth André Ventura, to gain seats: he and his pals are effectively the local chapter of The Fash.

A Parliament, or Assembly, representing a wide range of parties and therefore views cannot be other than A Good Thing, especially in a country where that Assembly is what is called Unicameral (Portugal has no “upper house”; the check on power comes from the elected President, who has the power to dissolve the Assembly and call fresh elections).

Ah, though, say our free and fearless press, what about speed of counting? Isn’t it all slow and bureaucratic? Er, no: once the votes are in and counted, the process of Increasing Quotients and dividing up seats is mainly automated. And it, along with the system in use, cuts out the tedious spectacle of political operatives demanding recounts.

Spain, which retains its constitutional monarchy, also uses the d’Hondt system to elect its Congress of Deputies. Those opposed to electoral reform will carp that both countries were rather late to this democracy thingy, but the question has to be put: do we want large parts of the electorate to be disenfranchised just so the establishment can “rig” the polls?

Once again, the press lets slip the name of the game. No-one is surprised.

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