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Tuesday 31 October 2023

Starmer Weasel Words On Gaza

Still the death toll mounts in Gaza as the IDF continues to rocket, bomb and shell the beleaguered enclave. Now it has exceeded 8,000, with north of another 1,000 buried beneath the rubble of all those flattened buildings. So it is understandable that there have been calls for a ceasefire, which have crossed the UK’s political divide. Those included Labour front benchers.

They also included London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. So what would party leader Keir Starmer do? What would he say, as a human rights lawyer, about the clear violations of international law by the IDF? What would a cold but empathetic leader have done to show his human side? What would Nietzsche have done?

But for some reason, Starmer cannot mention the C-Word: almost in an echo of Doctor Radcliffe in The Ipcress File, the word cannot come out, as if the speaker has been prevented from uttering it, except to deny its validity. Nor would he say that Israel had committed war crimes, even though he did not hesitate in the case of Ukraine and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Politicians, he now says, should not make such pronouncements. So, let’s see how the BBC has reported it. “Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he understands calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, but argued it was not the ‘correct position’ at the moment”. What’s the “correct position”, then? Wait for a few more thousand corpses to be generated? But there was more.

More than 60 Labour MPs have called for a ceasefire, but Sir Keir insisted his stance of calling for a humanitarian pause was ‘the only credible approach’ … He said a pause would allow aid to get in to Gaza and for civilians to leave … He argued that a ceasefire would leave Hamas's infrastructure intact, enabling them to carry out future attacks”.

A “humanitarian pause”, to use Starmer’s happy phrase, IS a ceasefire. Using the P-Word, rather than the C-Word, is just being pedantic and driving it round the houses. In any case, if it’s long enough for aid to get in, and civilians to leave, it’s a ceasefire. And whether the Israelis, some of whom claim all who live in Gaza are terrorists, will allow anyone out is uncertain.

Moreover, WHAT “Hamas infrastructure”? But back to the Beeb report. “He said a humanitarian pause was ‘the only credible approach that has any chance of achieving what we all want to see in Gaza - the urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering’”. Not much alleviation of Palestinian suffering if the IDF can lay off for a few hours and then carry on bombing the crap out of them.

Starmer may feel constrained by the stance taken by the likes of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has mischaracterised marches in solidarity with those in Gaza as “hate marches” and attempted to smear concerned citizens as anti-Semites. He may also worry about criticism of Israel being used by our free and fearless press as a stick to beat him with.

Chris Dillow, not a raving right-winger, has concludedFor me, this justifies Starmer's position. Any criticism of Israel would be misconstrued by these liars & their agents in the media as antisemitism & support for Hamas. We cannot have honest, reasonable debate under these conditions”. He’s right. And those liars are the ones like Ms Braverman and her fellow Tories.

The problem, though, is that once again Starmer is not only behind the curve of public opinion, he has disregarded the second part of Galbraith’s dictum on leadership: “A leader can compromise, get the best deal he can. Politics is the art of the possible. But he cannot be thought to evade”. Starmer is evading.

And the result, as Deltapoll has told, “Net approval for [Keir Starmer] has fallen by twelve percentage points and is now negative. Net approval for [Rishi Sunak] has fallen by eight percentage points”. What else can be causing that fall, except the inability, or unwillingness, to call out Israel for busting international law, and being frit of calling for a ceasefire?

No use thinking the media will cover for him. The voters have him sussed.

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Saturday 28 October 2023

Strong Hint - Ceasefire NOW

Hundreds of thousands of those showing solidarity with the Palestinian people have gathered in central London today. It looks as if the 300,000 total reckoned to have attended last week’s march has been exceeded: maybe not the million some are suggesting, but probably around half that. Why there should be such a large presence today is not hard to figure out.

Beginning yesterday evening, the state of Israel cut off Internet connection to the whole of Gaza, along with power. In the darkness, the rocketing, bombing and shelling of a defenceless civilian population continued, intensified, and rained down death and destruction through the night. Supposedly safe areas were targeted as indiscriminately as others. Including hospitals.

This last came after Binyamin Netanyahu claimed, possibly with a straight face, “Hamas-ISIS is sick. They turn hospitals into headquarters for their terror. We just released intelligence proving it. Here it is”. A slick graphic accompanied the Tweet. But just as Hamas and ISIS are two different organisations, reality and Bibi’s claim are most likely also very different.

Later, the IDF claimed that they had killed a Hamas commander, as if this justified trashing whole areas of Gaza. Meanwhile, in the dark and with no means of communication, ambulances could do no better than drive towards the area of the latest bombardment. The death toll, previously at 7,000, with well over 1,000 missing beneath the rubble, will have risen yet further.

Collective punishment. An occupying power cutting off essential services, including power and water. Preventing aid from getting through. Around 3,000 of those 7,000 dead are children. While our lame political leaders - both Tory and Labour - sit on their hands and hope it will all go away, others make their feelings known. Overnight, that meant the USA and Australasia.


Why so? Quds News Network: “On the left side of the picture is Bilal Saleh, a Palestinian farmer. This morning, he was picking olives in his land in the village of Sawiya, north of the occupied West Bank, a few minutes before Israeli terror settler militias raided his land and shot him dead in cold blood”.

He wasn’t anything to do with Hamas. And those who murdered him will face no criminal sanction. The West Bank has seen a steady stream of bloodshed, with Palestinian houses demolished, as settlers appropriate more land from those who have previously lived there. Yet there are organisations wanting to shut down protests, occasionally deploying easily disproved claims.

Like the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which howledTomorrow there is yet another ‘National March for Palestine’. As we said at our demonstration, [The Metropolitan Police] must impose conditions under s.12 of the Public Order Act. Central London cannot be allowed to become a no-go zone for Jews every weekend. Make arrests, not excuses”. However.

Jewish Voice for Labour had already shot that particular fox. “March for Palestine: Jewish Block … Join Jewish Comrades on Saturday 28th October 11:30 to demand CEASEFIRE NOW … Meeting point: Cleopatra’s Needle, Embankment, WC2N 6NU”. Some “No-go zone for Jews” that was, with seven Jewish organisations joining the march. CAA research fail. Again.

Meanwhile, LBC host James O’Brien asked the obvious question: “How can calling for a ceasefire be controversial? It’s literally asking people killing civilians to stop. You can ignore the calls, disagree with them or try to explain why the killing ‘must’ continue, but trying to silence calls to end this carnage goes against all our values”. It cannot be answered with “look over there”.

What part of “CEASEFIRE NOW” do our political leaders not understand?

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Friday 27 October 2023

Gaza - Starmer Behind The Curve

A quote attributed to Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, one of the leaders of the 1848 Revolution, was the probably apocryphal “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader”. The leader who is behind the curve, only making their mind up after everyone else has made up theirs. The quote could so easily have been attributed to Labour leader Keir Starmer.

There are ever louder calls for a ceasefire in the Israel and Hamas conflict, which would mean, mostly, the IDF desisting from its round-the-clock rocketing, bombing and shelling of Gaza, where whole neighbourhoods have been levelled and over 7,000 killed, including more than 3,000 children. But here Starmer is as the proverbial rabbit in those approaching headlights.

It has been claimed that he is reluctant to move until the USA has joined the ceasefire call. This may dismay some, but is understandable: ever since the Suez débàcle, Israel has known to which country its wagon should be hitched, and that country is not the UK or France, with whom it joined in the deception that ended the brief premiership of Anthony Eden.

Eden thought he could win over Gemayel Abdul Nasser; he learned some of the language, had done that sort of thing before. He won no-one over: Egypt seized the Suez Canal, Eden, the poshest of PMs, denounced Nasser as a “fah-sist”, and cooked up the deception with the French and Israelis, which was bust when US President Eisenhower told them all to desist.

It was a re-election year; Ike wanted to present himself as a man of peace. From that point on, the UK followed the US, sometimes managing not to look too slavish, but on occasion, as with Tony Blair backing Dubya Bush over Iraq, showing just how far, and at the expense of a serious amount of credibility, UK Governments were prepared to go to please Washington DC.

Starmer has already shown himself to be less than totally nimble when challenged on the behaviour of Binyamin Netanyahu and his pals. We are now being told that when he said Israel was within its rights to cut off power and water to Gaza, he was misrepresented. He was not. The audio is out there. Cutting off water and power to an occupied territory is a war crime.

That’s as in Section 33 of the Geneva Convention. Not only have Starmer and his team tried to rewrite reality, they are now in the Ledru-Rollin camp over calls for a ceasefire. One by one, senior Labour figures are calling out their leader, and with the certainty of night following day, are stating unequivocally that a ceasefire has to be called for.

Starmer’s latest headache has been induced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has demonstrated his considerable abilities by getting his own ducks in a line first. Like the Community Security Trust, who met Khan and later Tweeted approvinglyThank you, Sadiq Khan, for challenging antisemitism and all forms of hate crime.” They could hardly denounce him after that.

And so it came to pass that the Mayor told earlier todayThousands of innocent civilians have already been killed in Israel and Gaza. With the humanitarian crisis set to deteriorate even further, I’m calling for a ceasefire”. Full stop, no ifs, no buts. Which puts his party leader in one of those Very Difficult Positions. He can hardly suspend Khan. What does he do?

His minders can’t retrospectively redefine reality: the claim he was “misrepresented” will join other chin-stroking moments on shows like HIGNFY and be repeated relentlessly. He can’t sit this one out. On Israel and Gaza, he cannot get away with standing for nothing. 7,000 dead in Gaza, 1,000 unidentified bodies buried under the rubble, and counting. DO SOMETHING.

Remember Galbraith’s definition of leadership. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has now confronted that anxiety. He has called for a ceasefire.

Quit waiting for the USA. Get off the fence and show some leadership.

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Thursday 26 October 2023

Rachel Riley Misses Mass Slaughter

And so it came to pass that the Daily Mail, the Viktor Orbán of the press, showing solidarity with the state of Israel despite its history (some of it recent) of publishing straight-up anti-Semitism, went in search of a C-List Sleb to help tell the world how the Mail wasn’t really anti-Semitic, but all those Rotten Lefties™ certainly were, especially when it came to Israel and Palestine.

Countdown star Rachel Riley says she has been left 'shaking with fear' due to amount of hatred for British Jews she has seen since Hamas terror attack on Israelwas the headline. There was even a photo showing “People celebrating the Hamas atrocity in Israel outside a café in Acton, West London”, except they were merely waving Palestinian flags.

The Mail, though, knows who is in the right, and who isn’t. “Pro-Palestinian demonstrations started almost immediately while there was a celebrity letter headed by actors Steve Coogan, Tilda Swinton [and] Charles Dance, in which the massacre of 1,400 Israelis wasn't even mentioned”. Do go on.

But Rachel was moved by a contrasting action from Hollywood stars … She said: 'The new letter from the Hollywood stars feels in stark contrast to what we are dealing with in the UK where we have so many proud and open antisemites.’”. The Mail’s inference there, that those signing the “celebrity letter” included “proud and open anti-Semites”, is bang out of order.

She had more to say. “There are people in this country - and we've seen this conflict before - who appear to dedicate their lives to anti-Israel activism. They don't do that with facts, they don't do it calmly … And even when they have seen 1,400 innocent people brutalised in the most appalling way, they say nothing”. Something is missing here. What might that be?

It might just be that the daily rocketing, bombing and shelling of civilians across Gaza, where around 6,000 have been killed and more are buried under piles of rubble, is not getting much of a mention. And even when it does get a mention, its main purpose is to kick the BBC, an enduring obsession of the Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor-in-chief.

The presenter also criticised media organisations, particularly the BBC, over its reporting of a bomb blast at the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza when it repeated Hamas propaganda that it had been deliberately attacked by Israel and 500 were dead … ‘There is a phrase that a lie will get halfway around the world before the truth has got its pants on … the BBC saying one thing even as others were saying it was likely to be a misfired rocket’ said Rachel”.

Sadly for this black-and-white open-and-shut analysis, Aric Toler has told usIsraeli and U.S. intelligence officials believe that a projectile captured on videos shortly before the Ahli Arab Hospital explosion was a Palestinian rocket. [New York Times] Visual Investigations found that this object was launched from Israel, and likely unrelated to the deadly blast”. Jury still out.

Also, the IDF has a history of falsehood and misinformation. This conflict has no Good Guys. And calling “anti-Semitism” on anyone who passes adverse comment upon the actions of the Israeli Government and its armed forces, when we know that innocent civilians are being slaughtered, their homes flattened, their food sources cut off, and aid denied, will solve nothing.

Nor will Ms Riley win friends and influence people by saying “I don't want innocent people to die, of course I don't. BUT this is something that Hamas has started with its horrific actions”. BUT nothing. Hamas is not driving the rocketing, bombing and shelling of Gaza. 24 hours ago, the death toll was 6,000. Now it will be higher. And around 2,500 of those will be children.

Nevertheless, no-one should take the bait Ms Riley’s article dangles before anyone with a Twitter feed. Going after anyone who is Jewish, or even just supports the Israeli actions, is totally out of order. It is as totally out of order as going after anyone who is Muslim, or even just wants to show solidarity with Palestine. Reaction to this conflict demands calm and clear heads.

It is a pity that Rachel Riley appears to miss that opportunity. That is all.

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Monday 23 October 2023

Murdoch Host Says Greta Done It

Anyone with a following into the millions on Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat is calling it this week, and who expresses empathy with the two million people in the Gaza strip, who are being bombed, rocketed and shelled by the IDF round the clock, is going to get it in the neck, with the certainty of night following day. So it was with activist Greta Thunberg last weekend.

Alex Phillips ...

Week 270. Today we strike in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza. The world needs to speak up and call for an immediate ceasefire, justice and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affectedshe posted, precipitating a pile-on from those supporting the Israeli Government, many claiming she supported ISIS, and many dishing out a variety of highly personal abuse.

But that was not the half of it. Ms Thunberg was then subjected to a further pile-on when someone spotted a blue octopus toy next to her. This was held to be anti-Semitic because of 1930s Nazi propaganda, and other print images, depicting Jews as some kind of octopus with its tentacles controlling, well, anything that the more wacko conspiracy theorist could invent.

There was, however, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this claim - it was bollocks. The octopus toy is used by autistic people: the blue side shows a sad mood, and the purple side shows a happy one. Thus the problems inherent in having 5.6 million followers, and the refusal of many to consider gentle persuasion before resorting to abuse.

At this point, there was an intervention from Alex Phillips. Who she? Well, Ms Phillips is a proud Brexiteer and supporter of not at all wacko, honestly, Reform UK, the party headed by Richard Tice (he’s not really very nice). She has promoted Tice’s deputy David Bull, who Zelo Street regulars will recall whining when he found the European Parliament was actually in Europe.

Earlier this year, Ms Phillips told her followersLiving in London I get homesick for England … It’s not ours anymore. It’s not British”. Last weekend she expanded on this subject. “I am on the Tube … But I'm not sure in which country … The scenes in Central London today make the hairs on my neck bristle”. She’s the Reform Party’s “Spokeswoman on Culture”. No comment.

... and her latest target for self-promotion

She’s also a host on Murdoch noise floor occupant TalkTV. With that CV, it should surprise no-one to hearCan we all acknowledge Saint Greta is audaciously posing with a Nazi symbol here? The placement of the blue octopus isn't by accident. Let’s not just brush over this. The media beatified this awful girl. She had audiences with heads of state and religious leaders”.

Er, no we can’t. Because it isn’t a Nazi symbol. It was also a highly misleading cropping of that photo, in which the young woman on Ms Thunberg’s right is holding a placard telling “This Jew Stands With Palestine”. And while we’re talking of misleading and selective presentation, there is plenty more of that in Ms Phillips’ oeuvre. Rather a lot of it.

Take this example: “‘So much for Muslim solidarity!’ Alex Phillips and Dr Alan Mendoza discuss how Egypt has 'put up barbed wire fences' for Gazan civilians seeking to escape the conflict”. That would be the Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson society, infamous for mutating from an even handed think tank into a Muslim bashing one. Remember the Grenfell Cookbook smear?

Which spawned this headline from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph: “Meghan cookbook mosque linked to 19 terror suspects including 'Jihadi John' in group's investigation”. Camilla Tominey was the name on the by-line. And the group doing the investigation? The Henry Jackson Society. It was a nailed-on, deliberate, smear.

Or how about‘Iran’s threat isn’t just for Israel - it's a threat for the whole of the civilised world’. Colonel Richard Kemp says he would ‘not be at all surprised’ if Russia wasn’t involved with Iran’s poised ‘intervention’ in the conflict between Israel and Hamas”. Another Muslim basher. Another paranoid talking head with a claimed expertise he may not possess.

Alex Phillips does not reach up to Greta Thunberg’s ankles. But you knew that already.

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Sunday 22 October 2023

Labour’s Dangerous Muslim Game

Yesterday saw around 300,000 protesters march in the London rain in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. There were significant protests in other cities across the UK. These were also joined by Jewish groups opposed to the Israeli Government’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank, although predominantly they were joined by those in Britain’s Muslim diaspora.

Muslims have, in the past, voted Labour in large numbers, to the dislike of those out there on the right, who have needed no encouragement to spread scare stories about voter fraud, especially with postal votes. Our free and fearless press has also spread these stories, but not in the case of the EU referendum, because postal voting secured the Leave vote.

And the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank sees Muslim populations on the wrong end of bombing, shelling, random killing, and collective punishment, the last visited upon those in Gaza by the Israeli Government cutting off power and water supplies. Those supplies are part of how Israel controls, occupies and humiliates those in Gaza. They are part of the occupation.

In addition, Israel controls what food enters Gaza, its drones hover overhead, monitoring the population, its security forces say who can enter, and who can leave. Now, much of the housing stock of Gaza, such as it is, has been wiped out by Israeli air raids, done attacks and missile strikes, including a Christian church, just to make sure the other Abrahamic religion is not forgotten.

This asymmetric warfare is becoming hard for establishment media to defend, although the Mail titles have splashed on Israeli propaganda for three straight days now. So the protests are becoming larger, as people vote with their feet and join the show of solidarity with Palestinians. And the vast majority of Palestinians are Muslims. The same lot who vote Labour in large numbers.

But the current Labour leadership seems unable, or unwilling, to show the slightest degree of empathy with the suffering being meted out. Keir Starmer agreed that Israel had the right to cut off water and power to Gaza, only later rowing back and talking in rather general terms about international law. David Lammy was in the seriously mealy mouthed category on the issue.

And Lisa Nandy, appearing this morning before the inquisition of Victoria Derbyshire, more effective than regular host Laura Kuenssberg, would not answer the straightest of questions: had Israel breached international law by cutting off power and water to Gaza? “This is an extraordinarily complex and fast moving situation” was her first effort. So back came the question.

Israel has the right to self defence”. No, that wasn’t answering the question either. A third attempt to get an answer was met by the claim that to do so would be “grandstanding”. No it wouldn’t. So let me help Ms Nandy: Israel has breached international law, and is imposing collective punishment on more than two million people - in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

That kind of response might not be what those backing Israel would like to hear, but it is factual and should not be difficult for a politician who does not want to be remembered as evasive. Remember Galbraith’s corollary: “A leader can compromise, get the best deal he can. Politics is the art of the possible. But he cannot be thought to evade”. Labour is evading right now.

For so long, it has been fashionable among the real elites - that’s the press, the broadcast media, and their cheerleaders and hangers-on - not to take Muslims as seriously as other groups, whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic or whatever. Sayeeda Warsi talked of Islamophobia passing “the dinner table test”. But Palestine could and should end the complacency.

That, and the routine downplaying of Islamophobic bigotry in the UK, have the potential to hurt Labour badly. If The Red Team will no longer respond to their concerns, to whom will they turn come election day? The Muslim vote may go to the Lib Dems or Greens, or, worse, may not turn out at all, or in seriously reduced numbers. Alienation on top of bigotry and complacency.

Remember the Forde report’s “hierarchy of racism”? Voters just might.

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Saturday 21 October 2023

BBC DG Meets Tories - Press Silent

Once again, our free and fearless press brings us another reminder that its power lies not merely in what it chooses to print, but what it does not: a story has been broken by an online news source, and only one national daily has picked it up, despite it being about the hated BBC. The one paper to break ranks has had to mimic the name of its owner rather too much, too.

Tim Davie

It was Kevin Schofield of the HuffPost who told yesterday that “BBC director general Tim Davie will address the next meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers”, following up with the observation “To say this is highly unusual would be an understatement”. So it would. What is worse is that Davie is a former Tory party member and candidate.

His candidacy was for a seat in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, a council that would later become a target for the Tories’, shall we say, more radical fringe, like lawyer Donal Blaney of Young Britons’ Foundation infamy. Tory MPs Stephen Greenhalgh and Greg Hands also began their political careers as councillors at LBHF.

So who, among those who scrabble among the dunghill that is Grubstreet, has chosen to publish this news, and how are they spinning it? Surprisingly, it is the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, and part of Reach plc. And Reach is what the paper is doing, not least with its claim of an Exclusive, when Schofield had already prefixed his version with the word SCOOP.

And the spin applied? “Gary Lineker row triggers massive showdown with BBC chief Tim Davie and Tory MPs in days”. Eh? The “Gary Lineker Row”, to use the Express’ happy phrase, has already been and gone. Have a more wide-ranging go. “The Director General of the BBC Tim Davie has agreed to meet backbench Tory MPs amid growing fury over the BBC's coverage”.

What fury would that be, perchance? “BBC Director General Tim Davie has accepted an invitation to come to talk to Conservative MPs over increasing concerns that the national broadcaster is biased with an anti-Conservative, woke agenda”. Bullshit. The Express wouldn’t even be able to define the word “Woke”. And “anti-Conservative”? Seriously? Away with you.

But there was more. “But the meeting next Wednesday comes at a particularly sensitive moment with the BBC facing the prospect of being banned from Israel for appearing to report Hamas propaganda as factual news”."Appearing to report”. And “being banned from Israel”? That would be another very long Reach. Would the Daily Brexit care to be more specific?

The Corporation incensed the Israelis and Conservative MPs at home by claiming that Israeli forces had blown up a hospital in Gaza when there was no evidence beyond allegations being put out by Hamas”. No evidence beyond a lot of dead bodies, the Israelis putting out a now discredited chat between two Hamas operatives, and the Israeli version changing over time.

Also, the jury is still out on who sent the munition that hit the hospital, where Forensic Architecture’s analysissuggests a munition larger than eg a Spike or Hellfire missile commonly used by IOF drones. It is more consistent w/ the impact marks from an artillery shell”. Hamas don’t have those. And the direction of delivery is not from the direction the Israelis have claimed.

This is included to emphasise that putting out one side’s claim as data, and under duress, is not a wise move. Nor is making it about one presenter the Express doesn’t like. As in “MPs are still angry that the BBC backed down and changed the rules to allow Lineker to use his platform as its top-paid star to launch attacks on Government policy”. Nor is whining about WOKE.

What the Express, and anyone else out on the right, is missing is that for someone who is not merely BBC Director General, but has a political past with the party to whom he will be speaking, it looks very bad. Because it is very bad. Will Davie be speaking to the Parliamentary Labour Party? How about the Lib Dems and SNP? Would anyone take bets? Maybe not.

It’s not about Lineker or Israel. It’s about the Beeb’s credibility. That is all.

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Friday 20 October 2023

Tory Propaganda - Voters Not Listening

With two by-election results not being declared until after the papers had published their first editions, something else had to be splashed across those front pages. No matter for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, or those at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, there was always a little Government propaganda they could use instead.

Your seat's on the line too, matey

In the case of the Mail and Tel, though, it was Israeli Government propaganda that adorned their fist editions. And thereby hangs a tale: the editorial teams of both papers ought to know already that the last time they did that, their readers failed to heed the instructions handed down. And when the by-election results finally came, it was clear the voters weren’t listening, either.

Both in Tamworth, where the appropriately named Chris Pincher had left in disgrace, and Mid-Bedfordshire, where (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries had finally resigned, to the relief of many in the constituency who wished it had happened earlier, the Tories failed to defend five-figure majorities (19,600 and 24,600 respectively) and lost both seats to Labour.

The Election Maps UK feed on Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat is calling it this week, sounded a “Just For Fun” klaxon, tellingHow GB would vote if the Mid Bedfordshire By-Election swing was repeated across the country”. The Lib Dems would become the opposition with over 100 seats, Labour would be out of sight on 484 seats, and the Tories would be reduced to a rump of 20 seats.

What went wrong for the Tories? Perhaps the shorter answer would result from asking what didn’t go wrong. The Tamworth by-election followed Pincher losing his appeal against a proposed suspension from the Commons after he drunkenly groped two men. As for Mid Beds, Ms Dorries had not spoken in the Commons for more than a year prior to her resigning.

Worse, the Tories are now led by a Prime Minister so totally out of touch with ordinary voters that he uses private jets, or helicopters, to get around the country. The voters have to use their cars, or take the train (Mid Beds has a vocal commuter contingent who are well versed on the less than perfect service they can expect from Flitwick and Harlington).

Worse still, as Adam Bienkov pointed out, the Tories have not endeared themselves to voters recently: “So to summarise, the big messages from Rishi Sunak's party going into these by-elections were that: - We're scrapping our biggest levelling up project - Criminals will be spared jail - We're taking away your cigarettes - Parents struggling to feed their kids can ‘f*** off’”.

And as if The Blue Team could not make things worse, they, er, made things worse by both their losing candidates leaving the count before the winning candidates had made their acceptance speeches. If either of the losers stands for the seat next time, their opponents will have the Sour Loser acts on a tape loop. So what kind of excuses are the Tories deploying today?

Labour got fewer votes in Mid Beds than in 2019”. Except the Tories got more than 26,000 fewer. “By-elections don’t matter”. Except they mattered when holding Uxbridge and South Ruislip. And education secretary Gillian Keegan claiming the resultsdid not show a swing to Labour”. Some remedial maths lessons needed there. Maybe she was arguing in her spare time.

Two people who should be ‘fessing up and saying sorry, but will not be, are party chairman Greg Hands and his deputy Lee Anderson. Instead, Hands told Sky News “the conversations I had in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth [show that] people were happy with the job that Rishi Sunak is doing as prime minister”. So happy they appear poised to eject him from Downing Street.

That, along with the propensity to resort to personal abuse rather too readily, is a significant part of why the Tories keep on losing. Thuggish behaviour from the likes of 30p Lee is also counting against them. Labour hardly needs to lift a finger; the Tories are doing their hard work for them. Rishi Sunak being out of the country pretending to be important is just the icing on the cake.

The Blue Team may be facing wipeout. Just rejoice at that news.

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Thursday 19 October 2023

Oh Tommy Tommy - WASHED UP LOSER

Last week, this blog considered the appeal against a Stalking Prevention Order being undertaken by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, and concluded, having listened to his schtick (so you don’t have to), that “Stephen Lennon thinks he’s on to a winner. The evidence suggests not”. And so it came to pass: the judge has delivered the verdict.

That verdict is, to no surprise at all, that Lennon’s appeal against the Order has been unsuccessful. It therefore remains in place, The Great Man must abide by its Ts and Cs for another three years, plus he’s going to have to find a significant sum of The Old Folding Stuff No Cheques to pay the court costs, and for retaining the services of yet another legal team.

What that judge will have had to take into consideration when arriving at that judgment includes Lennon’s tendency to talk well, but lie badly. Lies like “This journalist, who has written 244 articles about me … [They’ve] written 244 news articles about me … [They’ve] implicated me in a terrorist trial which resulted in people threatening to kill my family”. And there were more lies.

[They were] part of a group of journalists who, ‘to cause a spectacle’ in their own words, live-streamed where my family and children lived … Sent an Antifa extremist who threatened to murder my children”. All this would have counted against him, as would his decision to leave the country for Cuba, and, later, Spain. So what was handed down yesterday was no surprise.

Court News UK told that “English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson was described as a ‘bully’ by a judge after he lost a bid to overturn a stalking protection order. Robinson, 40, confronted [a] journalist … at [their] London home over a negative story [they] planned to write about his use of donations. He turned up at [their] address and began screaming abuse outside her building after [they] began working on a new article about him”.

So what say Lennon to that? “Just a quick update for everyone. I’m enjoying time with my family [you lost, didn’t you?]. I’m pissed off [yes folks, he lost], but again, no jury, and a single judge has ruled against me, not my peers [you really think the result would have been any different with a jury?]”.

There was more. “That seems to be the standard of ‘justice’ I expect these days … Still, there have been wins in this case, which are a matter of court record [and what might they be, other than your opinion?] … I was going to release a video this evening about the ruling and much more”. But you’re not. Because that might land you in a whole lot more trouble. Do go on.

HOWEVER, there are a couple of ‘grey areas’ that need to be confirmed with the Judge BEFORE any video is released … So, that means tomorrow … I’m not going to be baited into releasing something they may try to fuck me for … before I release anything I want to make sure the Judge is OK with it [might not be any video at all, then]”. Then he signed off with a sneering coda.

Welcome to the utopian shithole of British justice, where corporate ‘journalists’ only make ‘honest mistakes’”. No, Stephen, you mean actual real journalists. And rocking up on someone’s doorstep in the dead of night, shouting the odds, doxxing their address, making sure you wake the neighbours, and saying you’ll come back tomorrow are not honest mistakes.

Worse for The Great Man, when he arrived at court last week, there was no gathering of his supporters, no fan club, hardly any media attention, and every claim he made was added to the dossier supplied to the Judge. The appeals for money are becoming ever more desperate, and ever more difficult to achieve the target he sets. He is yesterday’s grifter.

There will be no more articles in the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, no more gushing meetings with James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, no more TV appearances. Not even former Murdoch editor Piers Morgan wants anything to do with him, and Morgan is in the desperate category when it comes to getting interviewees into the studio.

The time of Stephen Lennon was for a time, but not for all time.

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Tuesday 17 October 2023

So Farewell Then Steve Bell

Do you remember the heyday of IF … ? The cast of characters was seemingly endless: Reg Kipling, The Penguins, Monsieur l’Artiste, John The Monkey, Inner London Wildlife, and every politician ruthlessly lampooned, whatever their party. Mrs T got it in the neck, and so did the Labour opposition with unforgettable characterisations such as “Kinnocratic Centro-Sensiblism”.

Steve Bell

All the creation of Steve Bell, that greatest of cartoonists, his style unmistakable, his targets equally so: John Major’s underpants, Tony Blair’s eye, David Cameron as a condom, Theresa May in a clown suit, and Jeremy Corbyn as a Star Wars-a-like “Jez-Bi-Wan Conorbyn”, along with his opponent Bozza The Mutt, and the tellingly named Ken Solo.

Young Dave was not at all happy at the condom characterisation, upbraiding Bell at one Tory conference with the unintended double entendre “You can only push a condom so far”. Yik yik, Spab spab. And Bell also gave offence to some; this has been part of the job description of the greatest cartoonists since Gillray. But his time at the Guardian has now come to an end.

First featured in the paper during the editorship of Peter Preston, Bell’s best work came in that period and after Alan Rusbridger took over the helm in 1995. Since Kath Viner gained the editor’s chair in 2015, Bell has had his contributions pulled on more than one occasion. IF … ended its run in 2021. And now, a cartoon the paper’s news desk failed to understand was his last.

Kath Viner

The impression is given that anything Bell produced satirising Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu would put the editorial team on edge, on a hair trigger for an excuse to call “Anti-Semitism” and have it pulled. So it was no surprise when a Netanyahu cartoon brought the curtain down. It was an homage to David Levine’s characterisation of Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ was depicted with a scar in the shape of Vietnam; Bibi was shown with an outline of Gaza. The Guardian’s team declared “pound of flesh”, as in the loan default penalty of Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. But that was a penalty that had to be paid by someone else; the Netanyahu cartoon showed the Israeli PM about to harm himself clumsily and needlessly.

Perhaps the Guardian and its editor wanted rid of Bell and happened upon a convenient excuse: today’s version of the paper is, sadly, a mere shadow of the title that pulled the plug on phone hacking, its editorial team wanting to be, if not loved by the rest of the print media, at least not getting spat on at press events for busting the code of newspaper Omertà.

The cartoon that ended it all ((c) Steve Bell 2023) ...

The right-wing press, so often the target of Bell’s satire, was not celebrating. Thus far, nothing from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog; perhaps The Great Guido would rather not be reminded of his ability to play both sides of the field on anti-Semitism. And the increasingly alt-right Spectator has registered its concerns.

Editor Fraser Nelson once again ascribes more influence to Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat calls it this week, than it actually possesses. But he is right to conclude “Losing him over this cartoon was a mistake and sets a dangerously low bar for what counts as unacceptable satire”. A mistake that has to be debited to the account of editor Kath Viner.

... and David Levine on LBJ's scar

Nelson also says of the cartoon that effectively got Bell sacked “It seems a fair analogy: Netanyahu will be defined by what happens next in Gaza just as LBJ was by Vietnam”. Johnson was so irredeemably defined by the mess of Vietnam that he declined to run for the Presidency in 1968.

He observes “Bell’s enforced retirement can be seen as part of a bigger trend, that of the parameters for humour and satire being tightened. If they become so narrow as to make both impossible, then our national debate and our culture will be the poorer for it”. And is far too kind to Ms Viner, who has demonstrated a craven cowardice which many suspected was there, but no longer need to suspect. This episode is a disgrace. And it’s down to her.

Meanwhile, thank you Steve Bell, still the greatest of cartoonists.

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Monday 16 October 2023

Nigel Farage Carries On Lying

The refusal of so many within our free and fearless press to take on board that former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage is a congenital liar continues, especially among his Brexiteer pals, after yet another episode of spontaneous trouser ignition last weekend. Nige lied about being “de-banked”. And now he’s lied all over again.

Here in Portugal, anyone and everyone who covers politics knows that Farage is a liar. He lied shamelessly about the 2015 Assembly Elections, he stood up in the European Parliament and claimed that the EU was somehow implementing the new Brezhnev Doctrine, and not even the then leader of UKIP - his own party - could convincingly defend him on TV.

So it was once more last Saturday as Mr Thirsty took to Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat is calling it this week, to howlA man is taken away by British police for carrying a Union Jack flag whilst the hordes march for a foreign war. How have we sunk to this?” As carrying a Union Flag (note correct usage) is not an offence, everyone should have been on their guard.

But Nige’s pal Richard Tice (he’s really not very nice) was not one of them. “What an outrage” he thundered. The singularly fishy Lance Forman echoed his pal: “Absolutely disgusting”. When it was pointed out to Forman that Mr Thirsty had been lying, he kicked off. “What about the thousands calling for the death of Jews. Isn’t that racism then? The police should be arresting every one of them too. Or don’t Jews count in your eyes?

Showing solidarity with Palestinians is now anti-Semitism, then. Meanwhile, Loz Argyle had seen it all before. “He was arrested for RACISM not for carrying the Union flag, here we go again folks, far right monsters spreading hate, fear to cause division and unrest, these people do not offer hope, they pretend too when in reality what you get is the politics of HATE”.

Another observer askedLeader of a Political Party lying. Where’s the retraction. Leaving the tweet up is done on purpose”. It certainly is. Two days after the event, and as I type, Farage’s flat-out lie is still live. As is another bout of lying from the deeply repellant, and singularly racist, beings from Turning Point UK, whose outburst would have made Charlie Kirk proud.

The [Metropolitan Police] have detained a man for waving the Union flag near Hamas/Pro-Palestine supporters.The police refuse to arrest the people out supporting a proscribed organisation, because they’re scared of being called ‘racist’. The Met are an embarrassment to Britain”. More lies.

Note that “Hamas” and “Pro-Palestine” are lumped together, and that it is assumed that those protesting were supporting the former. But do go on. “So the police will arrest a man for waving a Union flag, but refuse to arrest thugs who are assaulting the police. Why are the police so scared of Pro-Palestine/Hamas protestors? Why are the police afraid to enforce the law? We live in a two-tier policing system”. Who assaulted the cops? More lying.

Later, the Met put out a statement with this comment: “A man has been charged after shouting racist abuse at those gathered yesterday in Whitehall and making racist comments to a police officer. He was carrying a UK flag but this was NOT the reason for his arrest”. Confirmation that Farage was lying.

An ITV News report addedA man accused of making racist comments at a pro-Palestine march in London will appear in court next month. The Metropolitan Police said a 67-year-old man has been charged with intentionally causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress after being arrested on Saturday. He is alleged to have made racist remarks towards people gathered in Whitehall and a police officer”. He did a racism.

Why would Nigel Farage deflect from the facts? Would he rather rile up the mob against legitimate protest than accept what actually happened? Would he prefer not to acknowledge that a white man did a racism? Or was he just lying for the sake of it? Whatever. He should delete and say sorry.

But he won’t. Nor will the Turning Point UK bigots. That’s not good enough.

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Sunday 15 October 2023

Israel Loses Propaganda War

There is one kind of modern warfare where the size of a country’s army, the modernity of its equipment, and the range of firepower available to it are all but immaterial. And that aspect of modern warfare is the information kind, the presentation, projection and effect of propaganda. It is in this field of battle where the Israeli Defence Force is losing, and losing badly.

Israel has on its side the UK’s Government, its main opposition party, a phalanx of lobby groups, and most of our free and fearless press. But one look at today’s front pages shows that desperation has set in: rather a lot of that press’ readers appear apathetic at best to the exhortations to support the Israelis, while protests in solidarity with the Palestinians grow apace.

Why might this be? It is not such a difficult one to figure out: day in, day out, we get to see what life is like for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Gratuitous violence, even killings, is commonplace. Homes being demolished, or seized by settlers. Protesters gunned down for just approaching a border fence. And yes, the A-Word. Apartheid.

In the West Bank, roads, buildings, and services for settlers, all set apart from those available to Palestinians. In Gaza, the constant noise of IDF drones, watching the population 24 hours a day. Total control of who enters what is widely viewed as an open-air prison, and who leaves. Millions living under occupation, for year after year, decade after decade.

Time was when Israeli spokespeople would describe the IDF as the “Most Moral Army” and it would be taken as fact. Not any more, as we can now see what that army gets up to, terrorising little children, standing by as armed settlers brutalise those they are displacing. A cycle of violence that has been going on for so long that fewer and fewer people believe the official line.

Worse for the Israelis, the diktat of “both sides-ing” by broadcasters like the BBC has worked against them, so when Mark Regev, who advises Binyamin Netenyahu, tells the Corporation that his Government’s armed forces do not bomb hospitals, and that they abide by international law, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK is up next to call out Regev for lying.

Worse for the Labour Party, David Lammy, touring the studios this morning, was duly shredded by Victoria Derbyshire, holding interviewees to account in a way that Laura Kuenssberg doesn’t seem to. Lammy was told that sieges, like that imposed on Gaza, were prohibited under international law. His response? The Human Rights Commissioner “was entitled to his views”.

Which just makes him, and Labour, look callous, on top of Keir Starmer initially asserting that Israel is OK to inflict collective punishment upon those in Gaza, before qualifying his remarks later. Labour later telling their MPs and councillors not to attend pro-Palestine gatherings was another example of a party out of sync with many of its members. And it gets worse.

Trying to frighten off those who might be inclined to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause by suggesting this means they support Hamas (it doesn’t) and then calling them anti-Semites is having little effect, especially as the news organisations shouting “anti-Semitism” the loudest, like the Mail and Telegraph titles, have indulged in blatant anti-Semitism in the recent past.

And the owner of another media organisation, Rupert Murdoch, whined openly about the “Jewish owned press” before someone prevailed upon him to put the Twitter feed down. Small wonder the Israeli authorities are trying to close down Internet access in Gaza. But it is too late. Our politicians are proving ineffective and unpersuasive, as well as untrustworthy.

The observation by Alex Tiffin that “UN Peacekeepers were literally created for situations such as what is happening in Gaza right now … They could monitor & aid humanitarian efforts and ensure supplies aren't used by Hamas as a tool” may soon reach a far wider audience. Israel doesn’t want that, and nor, I suspect, does Hamas. They want the war to continue.

The general public, inasmuch as they care, does not. Israel has lost support, and now it has lost the propaganda war. They are no longer the good guys.

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Friday 13 October 2023

Oh Tommy Tommy - LYING AGAIN

The first words uttered by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, when he rocked up on my doorstep in the dead of night, were “You’ve been telling lies about me”, which was, in itself, a flat-out lie. Lennon has a distinctly assymetrical sense of truth and lies: everyone else is lying about him, but he tells THE TROOF about everyone else.

Bear that in mind as the action shifts to Southwark Crown Court, where The Great Man is seeking to overturn a Stalking Prevention Order made against him after another of those late night doorsteppings in search of one of those little polite conversations that involve Lennon shouting the odds, making threats, smearing anyone involved, and saying he’ll come back tomorrow.

But let us hear Stephen Lennon speak for himself: outside the court, holding a mic, and telling us THE TROOF. It was all about “An injunction, by abuse of the legal system, to prevent my journalism”. To prevent him harassing an actual journalist, he means. But do go on. “This journalist, who has written 244 articles about me”. No, they haven’t. This is a flat-out lie.

I’ve got a stalking prevention order. [They’ve] written 244 news articles about me”. It’s still a flat-out lie. Have another go. "[They’ve] implicated me in a terrorist trial which resulted in people threatening to kill my family”. This is another flat-out lie. "[They were] part of a group of journalists who, ‘to cause a spectacle’ in their own words, live-streamed where my family and children lived”. This is, you guessed it, another flat-out lie. Sadly, there was more.

Sent an Antifa extremist who threatened to murder my children”. And another flat-out lie, except that this time the person who allegedly sent the alleged “Antifa extremist” was someone other than Mike Stuchbery, who also had dead of night visits from Lennon. And his address doxxed.

You wouldn’t know any of this from these clowns [gesticulates at camera crews from actual media organisations and wakes them from their boredom] you wouldn’t know that from the mainstream media because they don’t show you this”. Perhaps they’re not quite as into pushing flat-out lies. But remember, “this isn’t about stopping me doing my journalism, it’s about stopping you seeing it”. Most convenient when the appeal for money comes.

Was he finished? Sadly, no. “They’ve got an injunction preventing you from seeing what this journalist’s been up to. Cos I am exposing [them]. With my journalism”. Call me old-fashioned and all that, but I never heard harassment and stalking elevated to the level of actual journalism before.

Was there a point to this rant? Have a guess. “Unfortunately, this costs. £20,000 plus VAT for this trial. I’m in here for the next two days, but we have no option but to fight it. I have to fight it cos they’re now using the legal system to prevent freedom of the press”. He’s the press already.

But I have to tell The Great Man that he faces an uphill struggle. There is an injunction out against him forbidding repetition of the libels that lost him an action brought on behalf of a young Syrian refugee. And Lennon has been caught breaking that injunction. Not only that, but all the detail has been gathered up and will have been handed to the authorities prior to his appealing against the Stalking Prevention Order.

Not only that, but Lennon’s decision to leave the UK and head to Cuba, followed by his continuing absence from the country, most recently staying, apparently, in a villa near El Albir, on the Costa Blanca between Benidorm and Altea, will doubtless count against him. Breaking an injunction and then fleeing the country? A most unfortunate chain of events.

Lennon clearly believes he will prevail and have the Stalking Prevention Order rescinded. But I have news for him: all those flat-out lies have been noted by others already, as well as his assertion that the judiciary is “corrupt”. As well as the most unfortunate scenes he made when he aggressively doorstepped the journalist concerned late at night.

Stephen Lennon thinks he’s on to a winner. The evidence suggests not.

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Thursday 12 October 2023

Hamas - BBC To Blame

Our free and fearless press will scrape through the sturdiest barrel, leap from the dirtiest gutter into the filthiest sewer, redefine shamelessness, abandon moral values completely, lie through its teeth, and all the while claim with faux righteousness that it holds the high ground, in order to put the boot in on the hated BBC. Something that the Gaza conflict has illustrated superbly.

Some out there on the right of the press establishment, have taken one look at the bloodshed, the devastation, the flouting of international law, the blood-curdling threats, and the brutal snuffing out of hope, and have decided that this is, where kicking the Beeb is concerned, the hill on which they are prepared to die. And it’s all over the use, or lack of it, of the T-Word.

The BBC does not, as a matter of objectivity and a refusal to take sides, use words like “Terrorist” to describe organisations like Hamas. It did not use that word to describe the Provisional IRA; it limited itself to calling the Nazis “The enemy”. Veteran correspondent John Simpson has laid out the reasoning and the background in an article for the Corporation’s website (HERE).

Predictably, this has cut no ice with the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, where today’s Daily Mail has gone Full Dacre as its front page lead thunders “As Charles AND William both condemn Hamas, our national broadcaster is still calling them ‘Militants’ … THE KING CALLS THEM TERRORISTS, WHY CAN’T THE BBC?” Why go why oh why oh why.

The supporting article tellsKing Charles last night condemned the ‘barbaric acts of terrorism’ inflicted on Israel. The monarch was backed by the Prince and Princess of Wales, who said they were ‘profoundly distressed’ at the unfolding civilian slaughter, adding: ‘The horrors inflicted by Hamas’s terrorist attack upon Israel are appalling.’” Appalling. Like ghastly Nicholas Witchell.

But do go on. “William and Kate went even further, highlighting the country’s ‘right of self-defence’. The royals’ deliberate use of the word ‘terrorism’ to describe the atrocities came in sharp contrast to the BBC, which refuses to call Hamas a ‘terrorist’ organisation”. So they expressed their opinion. Was there a talking head the Mail could call on for support?

Behold the arbiter of righteousness and decency

Sure was. “It refers to Hamas as a ‘militant’ group and described the slaughter of civilians as a ‘militant’ attack. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused broadcasters of trying to ‘wilfully mislead’ by not using the word terrorist, saying: ‘The murder of babies where they sleep is not the act of a “freedom fighter”.’” No-one called Hamas “freedom fighters”, either.

And perhaps there was another of those here today and gone tomorrow politicians ready to take the Biscuit. “A string of high-profile figures, including Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Labour leader Keir Starmer, yesterday heaped pressure on the BBC over its approach to covering the murder of Israeli civilians. Mr Shapps told LBC that it was ‘verging on disgraceful’, adding: ‘It’s time to get the moral compass out at the BBC.’”.

Grant “Spiv” Shapps (or maybe it was Michael Green and/or Sebastian Fox) says someone else should “get the moral compass out”? As Billy Connolly once said, there’s going tae be some swearing. FUCK OFF. Shapps regularly gives the impression that his moral compass departed many years ago.

And on it goes. “Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has raised the issue with BBC director-general Tim Davie and made clear her view that these were ‘acts of terror carried out by a terrorist organisation’. The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that by calling Hamas ‘militants’, the BBC ‘not only offers legitimacy to their government, but also denies the fact that they commit atrocities’”.

No. Just no. And what makes this confected outrage worse is where the non-story was incubated. Yes, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - no strangers to anti-Semitic hit jobs - started this particular ball rolling at 1051 hours. Plenty of time for an increasingly less well resourced Daily Mail to recycle the story. That’s how desperate the press are.

They even recycled the false baby beheading claim. What a shower.

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Wednesday 11 October 2023

Hamas Baby Beheading WASN’T

The old adage that something which looks too good to be true probably isn’t true has once again evaded the attention of our free and fearless press, whose burning desire to fall over themselves to support the state of Israel during the latest conflict with Hamas and others has led them to publish a story that was not only fake, but which they knew to be fake.

How the press justifies this kind of behaviour was illustrated superbly by former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, who toldUnconfirmed reports that Hamas has slaughtered 40 babies, beheading some, increasingly and sadly look like being true. Major news outlets now carrying the reports. The English language does not contain the vocabulary for an adequate response to this”.

Unconfirmed … look like being true … Major news outlets now carrying the reports”. None of this confirms the claim. But the media’s pack mentality took over: this morning, several titles have repeated that claim. But here a problem enters: yesterday, Anadolu Agency had reported “Israeli army says it does not have ‘confirmation’ about allegations that ‘Hamas beheaded babies’”.

This was Tweeted out before 2130 hours yesterday. In other words, well before the next day’s first editions had to be committed to print. Fake claims of unspeakable harm being meted out to babies go right back to the Great War. More recently, the régime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was accused of baby killing during its occupation of Kuwait. That wasn’t true either.

So one might have expected the press to stop and think, however briefly. But such a thought would have been sadly misplaced: only the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph managed to qualify its front page splash “Hamas massacres babies and children” with “The Telegraph could not verify the claim”. There was no such caution elsewhere.

The Daily Mail - the same paper that ran those viciously anti-Semitic attacks on the memory of the late Ralph Miliband - thundered “This was a holocaust pure and simple [punctuation is also a casualty here] … Babies beheaded”. Free sheet Metro, also owned by the Mail owners, claimed “'40 babies murdered by Hamas’ … children beheaded … says Israel”.

And the Murdoch Sun, owned by the same boss who moaned about the “Jewish owned press”, led with “Slaughter at the Kibbutz … Savages ‘beheaded babies’ in massacre”. Only in the supporting article are we told “Terrorists from Hamas also reportedly beheaded babies”, which does not support the headline. So who was to be the first to say sorry?

As if. This morning, the line has morphed into “They killed them anyway”, but one has to wonder, if a single source claim about babies being beheaded has been allowed to sweep across the media with so little resistance, how many more of the stories being backed up by those associating the idea of stopping and thinking with support for Hamas will also turn out not to be true.

It didn’t seem to bother the Murdoch Times, except to deploy those all-important quote marks: “Hamas ‘cut the throats of babies’ in massacre”. Or the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, which also had quote marks at the ready with “HORROR AT ‘PURE EVIL BEHEADING OF BABIES’”, again with the qualification “horrified Israeli soldiers claim”.

Our free and fearless press should have known better. But this plays into the upcoming dual narrative, for which readers are being softened up. Hamas is so unspeakably evil that this justifies any level of response: mere facts, like Gaza’s population of over two million being 50% children, are not allowed to enter. So the night and day bombing of the area gets a free pass.

The second part of that dual narrative, which is yet to play out, is that there is highly likely to be an Israeli land offensive into Gaza. In war, there are inevitably episodes of less than saintly behaviour from the military; anything from the IDF will be either ignored or dismissed because Hamas. Atrocities may indeed have occurred. But that is not the point the press is making.

They want you to believe one side is good, and the other evil. There can be no grey areas. Thus will the mass killings of Palestinians be justified.

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