Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Sunday 31 December 2023

The Real Victims Of War

Few in the media establishment, those tasked with opinion-forming, or others in and around the press and broadcasters, give much thought to those who actually suffer the most from, and have the least say in, campaigns of warfare. That might cast doubt on the idea of going to war as some kind of just and defensible act. It did not deter the late Pablo Picasso.

Picasso's Guernica, at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. My picture

The painter had been asked to produce a mural by the Republican Government in Spain. This would help raise awareness of the civil war being fought against the fascists under Francisco Franco. Not long after that, Franco asked the Nazis to help his cause by bombing a town in the Basque country called Guernica. This they did. Guernica burned; civilians died.

Most of the town’s men were away fighting. Those who remained were, overwhelmingly, women and children. They bore the brunt of the attacks; their homes burned around them. Some who took refuge in nearby fields were machine-gunned by fighter aircraft. Picasso was horrified. He made Guernica the subject of his mural; just 35 days later, he had finished the work.

From the Wiki entry, this is part of what is depicted: “The scene occurs within a large room. On the left, a wide-eyed bull, with a tail suggesting rising flame and smoke as if seen through a window, stands over a grieving woman holding a dead child in her arms. The woman's head is thrown back and her mouth is wide open. A horse falls in agony in the centre of the room, with a large gaping hole in its side, as if it had just been run through by a spear”.

A dead and dismembered soldier lies under the horse. The hand of his severed right arm grasps a shattered sword, from which a flower grows. The open palm of his left hand contains a stigma, a symbol of martyrdom derived from the stigmata of Christ”. Moving along to the right.

To the horse's upper right a frightened woman's head and extended right arm reach through a window. As she witnesses the scene she carries a flame-lit lamp in her right hand, and holds it near the bare bulb. Below her a woman in shock staggers from the right towards the centre while looking into the blazing light bulb with a blank stare”. Blazing light from the sky.

Francisco Franco, another fascist untroubled by human suffering

To the bull's right a dove appears on a cracked wall through which bright light from the outside shines. On the far right of the room there is a fourth woman, her arms raised in terror. Her wide-open mouth and thrown back head echo the grieving woman's. She is entrapped by fire from above and below, her right hand suggesting the shape of an aircraft”.

Most of those suffering are women and children. The soldier carrying a sword is unable to protect them. Those ordering and carrying out the bombings and machine-gunning in Guernica did not have to see any of the human death and suffering they had unleashed, and so they did not.

That is not to say that to receive and comprehend the universal humanist message of Picasso means the recipient is supporting one side over another in any of the conflicts in progress as 2023 moves into 2024. Death, suffering, the inhumanity of warfare, all made worse by advances in technology, do not depend on any particular culture, tradition, ethnicity or religion either to deliver them, or be delivered into them. Innocent civilians are just that.

Guernica was exhibited for many years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, whose management was most reluctant to let it go. But go it had to do, to Picasso’s native Spain. It can now be viewed on permanent exhibition at the Museo Reina Sofia, in central Madrid, just across the road from the palm house at the Estacion Puerta de Atocha.

Pablo Picasso died 50 years ago, while other wars were raging. There have been other conflicts since he painted Guernica; hardly has there been any time during which arms dealers have not been marching in lockstep with politicians and the military, while not concerning one another with the women and children who form that euphemistically termed Collateral Damage.

Have a peaceful New Year. And don’t forget the real sufferers of warfare.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Tuesday 19 December 2023

Santa Drives A Tram

It’s that time of year again, when Zelo Street takes a break for the Christmas period to travel, meet, catch up, relax and recharge the batteries for the year ahead. As I’m no longer resident in the UK - something that the brains trust of trolls has yet to figure out, bless them - here’s some views of one recent tradition that happens every December across the river in Lisbon.

Ho ho ho - it's a Proper Tram™

The city’s operator of buses, elevadores and trams, Carris (pronounced Ka-Reesh) takes two Proper Trams™, as in genuine 1930s ones, and turns them into Christmas Trams, or Elétricos de Natal. A word in the ear of those thinking the tram they boarded to experience the crush on Line 28 (cos it’s in the guide book, duh) was all 1930s - those are not Proper Trams™.

Not really a Proper Tram™

Those trams you see in everyday service have been given 1990s electrical systems, trucks, motors and controllers. They have a pantograph as well as a trolley pole, and are known as Elétricos Remodelados (remodelled trams). But back to the Christmas Trams, which this year have been giving trips to school-age children, and later, families. The trips sold out. Very rapidly.

Another Proper Tram™, another Ho Ho Ho

Because of drainage works (don’t ask) this year’s trip has been from the Carris depot at Santo Amaro, west to Algés and back. The trams carry a green livery, and have Santa at the controls (honest). They were snapped passing Pastéis de Belém on the outbound leg, and with the backdrop of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos on the return. Another word in the tourist ears.

Premium tram tour. But not really a Proper Tram™

Look at all those standing outside Pastéis de Belém, eating the Pastéis de Nata they bought from the takeaway shop. The Pastéis cost the same if you go in the café and have a sit down. The coffee is excellent. And you can freshen up with a visit to the bathroom. Also, you get the Pastéis served warm from the oven. And that’s the only way to really enjoy them.

Return trip, and more Ho Ho Ho

Another tourist tip: if you want to visit the Monastery, go early doors. Later in the morning, all the coaches rock up and the queues get horrendous. In the New Year, I may write up more tourist tips, and maybe a Lisbon craft beer guide. Plus where you should visit, and more importantly, where you should avoid, when it comes to dining out. But, once again, I digress.

Feliz Natal to one and all

Arrangements for Christmas are already being made, the menu has been circulated, transport and hotels booked, and that will be that for blogging until after the festivities. It’s wall to wall sunshine here in Pinhal Novo, so a relaxing afternoon walk beckons. Have a relaxing Christmas, shut the horror show out for a few days, and hopefully I’ll see you all on the other side.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Monday 18 December 2023

Tory Owns Up Singing Mone-y Mone-y

There was considerable scepticism before the interview aired yesterday, especially because the Police are already investigating. But in the event, two misguided souls shafted themselves for all to see: Tory peer Michelle Mone and husband Doug Barrowman were lightly grilled by BBC host Laura Kuenssberg, and put themselves in the Prince Andrew class. No sweat.

Phwoar! Look at those trusts!

Why they consented to the interview is a mystery: Ms Mone had already instructed lawyers to go after anyone asking inconvenient questions, with threats of subsequent legal action. But now she ‘fessed up: she had been telling porkies. But she had done nothing wrong. She was the victim of press intrusion. Her life had been made into some kind of living hell.

Well, excuse me for not giving a rat’s arse about Lady Moaning and Doug Barrowboy being inconvenienced. They took advantage of the Tory VIP Lane to supply tens of millions’ worth of PPE for use during the Covid Pandemic, which turned out not to be fit for use. They made around £60 million in profit, except they didn’t, because it went into a trust, not their bank accounts.

Here’s Ms Kuenssberg’s take: “Michelle Mone has admitted that she stands to benefit from tens of millions of pounds of profit from personal protective equipment (PPE) sold to the UK government during the pandemic by a company led by her husband, Doug Barrowman … the couple apologised for denying their role in the deal for more than three years”. There was more.

But a defiant Baroness Mone said: ‘I don't honestly see there is a case to answer. I can't see what we have done wrong.’” Ho yus? “PPE Medpro was awarded government contracts worth more than £200 million to supply PPE to the NHS during the pandemic”. However, “Millions of gowns the company supplied were never used but the couple say these were supplied in accordance with the contract”. And now there is a lawsuit.

PPE Medpro is being sued by the UK government for £122m plus costs for ‘breach of contract and unjust enrichment’”. AND “Having previously denied gaining directly from the contracts, which yielded profits of around £60m, the former Conservative peer and lingerie tycoon admitted she and her children were beneficiaries of financial trusts where the money is held”.

The nuances of the VIP lane explained

Barrowboy was yet more shameless. “Mr Barrowman said that Baroness Mone ‘was always going to benefit, and my family will benefit in due course… her family benefit, my family benefit … That's what you do when you are in a privileged position of making money,’ he said”. Well, whoopee-do, eh?

The adverse comment was not long in arriving. David Conn of the Guardian, one of those on the receiving end of legal threats, had been toldYou have now been placed on notice on numerous occasions of our client’s position in relation to PPE Medpro. She has no involvement in the business”. Which was a flat-out lie. There were other denials [HERE]. And there was more.

Former BBC Newsnight man Meirion Jones pointed outShe got a VIP contract for £122M of PPE because her mates were in power - none of which was usable. She & her husband made £60M profit on that which they have lied about ever since & Michele Mone says ‘I can't see what we've done wrong’ That's the problem with these people”. David Osland explained that.

It's a good job Michelle Mone isn't a black mother wrongly accused of dodging a £2 bus fare, or she'd certainly have been arrested by now”. Peter Jukes of Byline Times linked to the telling headline “£2 Billion in Contracts Awarded to Conservative Associates … deals worth billions have been awarded to top Conservative Party associates during the Coronavirus crisis”.

Tom Scott spelled that one out. “Why is more attention not being paid to the fact that Michelle Mone's husband, Doug Barrowman, is a major donor to the Conservative Party? This is a party that operates in a way that would be very familiar to major organised crime groups”. Barrowboy had bunged the Tories a cool £170,000. He scratches their back, PPE Medpro goes in the VIP Lane.

Taxpayer funds bought the useless PPE, and were spent disposing of it. The sole beneficiaries made £60 million profit. Done nothing wrong? You wish.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Sunday 17 December 2023

Gary Lineker And Gibbgate

Showing humanity and empathy has suddenly become the means by which the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press runs a series of deeply righteous and hostile front page stories. That is because the person showing that humanity and empathy is Match of the Day lead presenter Gary Lineker. What is less clear is that this is classic deflection, a dead cat story.

It's not about him, but ...

Lineker tweaking the tail of deeply unpleasant Tory MP Jonathan Gullis is hardly a major social media event. But the need to present anything BBC related as “rich luvvie presenters meddling in politics” has inflated the story, and continues to do so. The latest lame attempt to reheat the attacks came today from another singularly unpleasant politician, Oliver Dowden.

For some reason, Dowden is now Deputy Prime Minister, which is by itself a frightening prospect. He told Sky News this morning that Lineker should keep out of politics, telling “People should swim in their own lane”. Author and teacher Paul Goldsmith summed up the response of many voters to that.

My lane is the state of my street. My lane is the quality of my children’s education. My lane is the ability of the NHS to function. My lane is homelessness. My lane is inequality. My lane is freedom of speech. My lane is foreign policy … Politics is everyone’s lane”. Tories and their press pals snarking at someone not breaking any rules will get them nowhere. So why are they doing it? Ah well. Let’s look elsewhere within the BBC.

When the Corporation’s new chair, Samir Shah, was quizzed on the exchanges last week, he “told MPs that ‘on the face of it’ Lineker had broken the corporation’s social media guidelines”. What Shah was also quizzed about, but has not been widely reported, was a little matter revealed by (yes, it’s her again) now former MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries.

Her recent book contains this passage (which has been legalled): “I had been aware that Robbie [Gibb] was closely linked to Dougie [Smith’s] wife Munira [Mirza]. Indeed, I had been summoned to meet with them both in Number 10 when I was Secretary of State, without a set agenda or anyone taking minutes”. Have a think about that. And there was more.

... oh, look who's here

Robbie spent the meeting trying to persuade me to appoint Lord Stephen Gilbert as head of Ofcom. Gilbert is a very long-standing party apparatchik who has worked from within Central Office for as long as I can remember”. Jake Kanter of Deadline found “a source who worked closely with her at the DCMS”, and who said she was, on this occasion, correct.

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger added “No-one - not Gibb, Mirza, Dougie Smith, the BBC, the DCMS or No. 10 - has denied this happened. So I think we can assume it did”. Gibb has previous for sticking his bugle in, notablyhow an investigation into Leave EU targeting the far right by the BBC was then dropped after [Leave EU] complained about it [to him]”.

SNP MP John Nicolson was one of those grilling Samir Shah, and he did not find his answers convincing. “I like Samir Shah personally. But his refusal to answer basic questions on probity was ill judged. Eg. ‘Is it ethical for BBC Board members to try to influence the appointment of Chair of independent media regulator [Ofcom]?’ Answer should have been ‘no.’

Rusbridger, meanwhile, has toldI've written to the BBC Chair-elect, Samir Shah, about his promise to [Kevin Brennan] and [John Nicolson] to inquire about Sir Robbie Gibb”, later addingThe all-party committee vetting Samir Shah’s appt as BBC Chair seems to have been underwhelmed by his answers on, among other things, #Gibbgate. They want him back in the new year to try again”. So why does the right-wing press shield Gibb?

Simples. Gibb, who, I’ve been told, has difficulty seeing anything from other than a Tory HQ perspective, is the acceptable face of the Beeb: anonymous, rabid Brexiteer, has no trouble being seen at Tufton Street events, and with apparent plausible deniability, working behind the scenes for the Tories.

But now he’s been rumbled. Which means it’s Gary Lineker’s fault.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Saturday 16 December 2023

Piers Morgan - Not Waving But Drowning

And so it came to pass that the host of TalkTV’s flagship offering The All-New Percy Moron Show emerged from his Bijou Petite Maison in west London to address representatives of the world’s media. The subject on offer was his response to his former employers losing a case brought by the Duke of Sussex, and where the Judge had concluded Haz had his phone hacked.

And what's more, Ron ...

Such was the blatant deflection and whataboutery on offer that Morgan’s post of his oration on Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat is calling it this week, ended up being Community Noted by one kind soul who had seen through the fog of misinformation. Given that his side lost, and two more of his sides were now in the firing line, it might have been better for him to have said nothing at all.

As the BBC has told, “Piers Morgan has said he has ‘never hacked a phone or told anyone else to’, after a judge ruled he knew about the practice - and was involved - while editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004”. But no-one made that claim during the trial. What author Omid Scobie recalled was that Morgan was told a story had been stood up by hacking.

Those acting for Reach, the company which now owns the Mirror titles, did not contest Scobie’s evidence, perhaps because it was supported by a contemporaneous invoice from a PI which matches his recollection. And while Morgan accused Scobie of being a “deluded fantasist”, his problem is that the person to whom he dished out the abuse was believed by the Judge.

So what we had was Morgan maybe not ordering the hack, or doing it himself, but knowing it was going on - at the paper he edited. This contradicts the evidence he gave to the Leveson Inquiry. He might also wish to reflect on the Judge in the Haz case describing Scobie as “a straightforward and reliable witness”, while Leveson LJ called Morgan’s testimony “unconvincing”.

He could also reflect on Professor Brian Cathcart’s observation: “A very important court victory today for #PrinceHarry against the Mirror papers. But at least as important is the finding that three top execs of the time - Sly Bailey, Paul Vickers and Marcus Partington - all knew phone hacking was going on. That's not what they said [to Leveson]”. That sounds like perjury. Oh dear!

Moreover, if top executives from one newspaper group knew hacking was going on, it may be that top executives at other newspaper groups knew hacking was going on too. Two media organisations with which Morgan has been associated, and is now associated, will provide an excellent opportunity to test this theory. Because Haz now has them in his sights.

Those two organisations are Associated Newspapers, where Morgan was an “editor at large” for Mail Online, and whose legendarily foul mouthed editor in chief Paul Dacre told the Leveson Inquiry that his paper did not do hacking - becoming most indignant when actor and campaigner Hugh Grant said it did - and the mafia mob now called News UK. For whom Morgan now works.

It matters not a jot how much hot air Morgan expends on trying to discredit Haz and Scobie, and indeed anyone else he chooses to attack, in the meantime. As the Duke of Sussex put it in his statement read out yesterday, “the mission continues”. If he’s got a beef with Haz, he could always sue.

As Peter Jukes of Byline Times put it, “Morgan going down the 'Harry invaded his own privacy' canard. Well, that's NOT what the High Court said - and unlike the papers Morgan edited, Harry did not need to hack his phones, steal confidential medical and financial records. Stupid comparison”. The misinformation ain’t making it. Plus, a thought for The Great Man to consider.

The BBC noted that Reach “has already paid out around £100m in damages and legal costs over phone hacking”. The Murdoch mafiosi has shelled out around a cool billion. Yesterday’s judgment confirms that some of the £100 million from Reach was down to Morgan’s editorship of the Daily Mirror. He should be grateful that he gets to keep his millions, with no worry that one or other of his former employers will be asking him to chip in.

For you, Piers Morgan, the war is over. Back in your box and quit moaning.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Friday 15 December 2023

Harry Wins - Hello Piers Morgan

Why does former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan dislike Prince Harry so much? Well, the fact that Haz is the one married to Megs is one part of it, given that Morgan thought he had an entry into the Royal Family but ended up blanked, and not even getting a wedding invite. But the other part has been Harry’s tenacious pursuit of illegal information gathering.

Evening all

The latter led, this morning, to the High Court, where, as the BBC has reported, we also found out why Morgan has a similar dislike for author Omid Scobie. The latter interned at the Mirror titles. And it was the Mirror titles that lost this one. Big Time. “Mr Justice Fancourt says that [Haz’] personal phone was targeted between 2003 and 2009” tells the Beeb. And there was more.

He says 15 of 33 sample articles were ‘the product of phone hacking … or the product of other unlawful information gathering’ … He rules there was ‘extensive’ phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers from 2006 to 2011”. Put another way, that means the hacking continued for around two years after Nick Davies, then at the Guardian, blew the whistle on the practice.

Indeed, the practice continued “‘Even to some extent’ during the Leveson Inquiry into media standards”. It got worse. “Mr Justice Fancourt rules ex-Mirror CEO Sly Bailey knew of hacking and ‘turned a blind eye’ … Mr Justice Fancourt says while the sum [£140,600 in damages] is modest they also reflect the hurt experienced by the Duke of Sussex because of Mirror Group Newspaper's (MGN) concealment of the wrongdoing”.

And worse still. “The judge stresses he found Harry's associates were also unlawfully targeted by MGN”. MGN have held up their hands. “Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation”. Now the $64k question.

Which concerns the normally brash and combative Morgan, about whom Scobie had told the court “in 2002 he had witnessed Morgan discuss an article about Kylie Minogue and Morgan, the then editor, had asked the journalist how confident they were about the story. Morgan was told, Scobie recalled, that the source had been a voicemail”. What say the Judge?

And what's more, Ron ...

Mr Justice Fancourt said that recollection was supported by evidence of an invoice from a private investigator related to obtaining Minogue’s mobile phone number and that of her then partner, James Gooding … [he said] I found Mr Scobie to be a straight-forward and reliable witness and I accept what he said about Mr Morgan’s involvement in the Minogue/Gooding story”.

Worse news for Morgan was that his former employers did not defend Scobie’s claim, the Judge observing “No evidence was called by MGN to contradict it”. Then came the really bad news for TalkTV’s big earner.

The Beeb’s Dominic Casciani noted “Piers Morgan knew about phone hacking - and was involved - when he was editor of the Daily Mirror, the High Court has ruled … In a highly significant part of the judgment, Mr Justice Fancourt lists times when Morgan was said to have been aware of phone hacking - and the evidence had not been contested. He also said that he found evidence about Morgan’s involvement to be credible and it had not been countered by the Mirror Group”. OUCH! There was more.

David Sherborne, representing Haz, said “on behalf of Prince Harry, that the Duke of Sussex 'respectfully calls on authorities, the financial regulator, stock markets… and the Metropolitan Police and prosecuting authorities to do their duty for the British public and investigate bringing charges against the company and those who broke the law’”. So what say Piers Morgan?

So far? Nothing. Nix. Nil. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not a sausage. Bugger all. No protestations of innocence. No new attacks on Haz and Megs, or indeed, anyone who has brought cases against his former employers, the Murdoch mafiosi, or Associated Newspapers. But he does want you to know that he got great ratings last night. Which just about sums up the press mindset.

But in the real world, the ends did not justify the means. Hello Piers Morgan.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Wednesday 13 December 2023

Mark François Is An Idiot

The BBC had bad economic news: “The UK economy shrank by more than expected in October, as higher interest rates squeezed consumers and bad weather swept the country … The economy fell 0.3% during the month … Most economists had predicted that the economy would shrink by just 0.1%, but the services, manufacturing and construction sectors all contracted”.

And, as Zelo Street pointed out recently, the economy would have done even less well without recent significant net inward migration. That thought was not allowed to enter the cranium of the most delusional Tory right-wingers, though, for whom FORRINS coming here and taking the jobs Hard Working Brits don’t want to do, then paying taxes and spending, is Streng Verboten.

All of which brings us to the Colonel Blimp de nos jours, Mark Gino François (note cedilla under the c), who has decided that, far from being an insignificant back bencher, he is A Very Important Voice Indeed. Moreover, he is the current chairman of the European Research Group, which does no discernible research, but is merely a convocation of Europhobic wackos.

François (note cedilla under the c) declared to the assembled media that the so-called Rwanda Law has incurred the displeasure of Himself and his group: “Our objection was that we don't believe, as it's currently drafted, the bill is firm enough to ensure that flights will take off to Rwanda … The prime minister had said that he would entertain tightening up the bill”. Do go on.

We're taking him at his word [Rishi Sunak is no more trustworthy than disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, which makes François a prime mug] … A number of MPs voted with the government... because they were told in private that there would be amendments later on”. Some of his fellow Tories were conned rotten.

When it came to the vote, the ERG, or at least some of them, courageously abstained, but no Tories voted against. So Sunak still managed to muster a majority of 44. The idea that, as the Mail claimed yesterday, the vote would go “down to the wire” was crap (the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press is now claiming the PM won “for now”). François was bust.

Meanwhile, one of those seeking asylum in the UK who had been incarcerated on the Bibby Stockholm barge took his own life, causing discomfort to the Tory right who only reluctantly consider such people to be human. Mickael Essouma was, as Jacqui Mckenzie pointed out, “A doctor from the Cameroon with over 32 peer reviewed clinical research articles”.

Tory policy towards refugees will, with the certainty of night following day, become even less popular, the racist brains trust out there on the right being insufficient to keep the party in power come the next election. Essouma was not “here to get benefits”. He wasn’t “invading” the country. He wasn’t “low-skilled migration”. This was most inconvenient to François.

[Subsequent news is that Mickael Essouma was not the man who took his own life]

Because what he so desperately wants is to make sure that flights to Rwanda actually happen. And that they be filled with all those FORRINS. This, he apparently believes, is what The People want. Breaking international law. Making the UK even less trustworthy. Making the prospects of trade deals and access to markets (like the European Single Market) less likely.

His delusion was summed up by Jo O’Neill: “Apparently deporting a couple of hundred people to Rwanda will boost the stagnant economy, end poverty, end industrial unrest, resolve the Irish border problem, fix the NHS, ensure our schools are properly run, level up, make mortgages affordable and provide affordable housing”. The public, whisper it quietly, have other priorities.

And, as SDLP MP Claire Hanna put it in the Commons yesterday, “This is just red meat for a common sense group with no common sense, a research group that does no research & [a] star chamber that has no stars”. One Tweeter musedMark Francois looks like he should be driving a coachload of pensioners to Marbella”. That’s how important and relevant he is.

But he is damaging the credibility - of his own party. What a complete loser.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Tuesday 12 December 2023

Susan Hall Is An Idiot

The Tories, it might be thought, would like to do well in, perhaps even win, next year’s Mayoral election in London. They have, after all, rewritten the rules to impose First Past The Post on an electorate without consulting it first, so none of that Second Preference rubbish putting Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan back in City Hall. But to do well, they need a credible candidate.

Susan Hall AM

Last time, Shaun Bailey had been written off by many, but still managed a respectable 44.8% of the final vote tally. So who would follow that? What would a sensible party selection be? What would a pragmatic and competent party have done? What would Nietzsche have done? Sadly for The Blue Team, they chose Assembly Member Susan Hall. Who she?

Ms Hall apparently had problems seeing through Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. Nor did she figure out that Whinging Dan Hodges was not always right - about anything. So when Desperate Dan sniffed “How many people are sitting in Michigan saying ‘I was going to vote Trump. But Prince Harry doesn’t like him. So now I’m voting Biden’she addedThe exact opposite I would imagine. I think Trump will win”. Trump lost. And lost Michigan, too.

On she ploughed. “And people will wonder how Trump won” … “and Democrat’s [sic] will wonder why if/when Trump wins”. Trump still lost. Come the election, she was holding fast: “In Washington beginning to look like crowds might get ugly. Doubt that Trump doing well will be accepted easily”.

But her belief in Trump was as nothing when compared to her backing for disgraced former occasional Mayor of London Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. “Good for Boris supporting both Conservative and Labour Hillingdon Councillors against the expansion of ULEZ Sadiq Khan mustn’t do this it will make life so difficult for poorer Londonersshe told last November.

Her problem was, not for the last time, missing the obvious: Bozo was the one who started the ULEZ business in the first place, as well as becoming a stinking hypocrite when he thought it might make him look good. But at first, her poll ratings seemed to put her within reach of matching Khan’s.

Sadly, though, after ULEZ was expanded, and drivers realised that the scare stories about who would be charged to enter it were mostly untrue, those ratings changed. First it was Khan on 50% and Ms Hall on 25%, which was bad enough, and enough to get the incumbent over the line, whatever voting system was used, and however the vote split. More recently a poll has shown Sadiq Khan still on 50%, but Ms Hall down at a mere 23%.

And so it came to pass that Ms Hall’s campaign tried an attention-grabbing stunt: their candidate had been pickpocketed on the Tube! See, Sadiq’s letting crime skyrocket out of control! It’s all his fault! Sadly, two things then happened. One, her money and cards were returned to her, which means it must have been a lousy pickpocket. Or they just fell out of hers.

Also, Two, it was pointed out to her that the Tube, being one of those railway thingies, was the domain of the British Transport Police, not the Met. So crime on its premises and trains were not down to the Mayor. Perhaps she should be haranguing the Secretary of State for Transport, but, oh hang on a minute, that would be Mark Harper, and he’s in, er, the same party as her.

So did that sink in? Did it buggery. The result of It Not Sinking In was that, yesterday, Ms Hall announcedTube crime has skyrocketed by 56% in the last year under Sadiq Khan. We must restore confidence in our public transport by making it safer. I will conduct a full review of TfL to ensure it delivers”. Sadiq Khan is still not responsible for the BTP.

Dave Hill of the excellent On London website delivered some context. “Reported Tube crime has ‘skyrocketed’ from 13.7 to 18.6 reported offences per *one million* passenger journeys. Misleading & scaremongering”. Ms Hall’s remaining supporters will no doubt go through the motions, but come the Mayoral Election, she’s going to be toast. And deservedly so.

Next year, Susan Hall will meet reality, and lose. Just rejoice at that news.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Monday 11 December 2023

Jonathan Gullis Is An Idiot

One might have thought that Members of Parliament, rewarded annually with around £86,000 of public funds, would spend every waking hour working tirelessly on behalf of their constituents. But that thought appears to have been misplaced when considering Jonathan Gullis, who for some reason was elected in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency in 2019.

An MP, but maybe not for long, versus ...

Since then, his catalogue of mis-steps, documented on his Wiki entry, has made for lamentable reading. He claimed that research into the Royal Navy’s links to slavery was "leftwing ideological nonsense”. He co-signed a letter accusing the National Trust of being "coloured by cultural Marxist dogma, colloquially known as the 'woke' agenda”. Dishonest use of anti-Semitic trope.

He suggested at a fringe meeting during the Conservative Party conference that people using the term "white privilege" should be reported to the Home Office as extremists and that teachers found criticising the Conservative Party should be sacked. He called Black Lives Matter “a Marxist organisation”.

And he claimed that his constituents were “flabbergasted that the woke, wet and wobbly lot opposite are on the side of their lefty woke warriors, who are making sure these rapists and paedophiles remain in this United Kingdom, rather than standing up for the British people and their safety”. But at least he removed himself from Twitter, X, or whatever Muskrat is calling it this week. Sadly, he returned to the platform last month to spread more idiocy.

Having fewer than 2,000 Twitter followers, he went after someone with rather more. And so it came to pass that Gullis picked a scrap with Match Of The Day lead presenter Gary Lineker. “Gary can you tell us when you plan to demand the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas?Just when I searched your X feed, the word ‘hostages’ came up with no results”.

... a presenter, maybe for rather longer

Unfortunately, as more than one respondent pointed out, Gullis’ own feed had only one instance of “hostages” - guess where. Sadly, he wasn’t finished. “I know you once said Hamas are ‘truly awful’ in a reply to someone on X, but seeing as you are not bound by the same rules others in the BBC are, would you be willing to call Hamas ‘terrorists’ like everyone else?

Er, I’m sorry, this is irrelevant? Former England Rugby man Brian Moore put the question Gullis is yet to answer: “I know it is difficult, but you do have to make up your mind on this. Should he stick to football, or is he allowed to say whatever he wants about whatever he wants? If the former, why are you asking this? If the latter, why have you accused him of rule breaking?”.

But the MP has taken the Daily Mail on trust, whining plaintivelyYet another breach of the BBC’s impartiality rules by [Gary Lineker] But, sadly, spineless Tim Davie will do nothing about it, having surrendered to Lineker previously.” Not least because the Mail, which has whined about the presenter on its front page today, has in turn taken Gullis on trust and quoted him freely.

And all the while, as Gullis continues his pointless attacks, the electorate of Stoke-on-Trent North see less return on the £86,000 of public funds (plus expenses) paid to their MP. His constituents may be asking themselves about value for money come the next General Election, where The Great Man is predicted to lose his seat, and badly, whoever Labour’s candidate may be.

Maybe he’ll reappear as a pundit on GB News. If it’s still in business, that is.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Sunday 10 December 2023

Mail Stokes Tory Delusion

Their poll deficit to Labour remains over 20%, whatever hare-brained scheme they offer the electorate in yet another desperate effort to get their attention. The Tories are now just whistling to keep their dwindling spirits up, waiting for the inevitable General Election drubbing and a significant period in the political wilderness. But their press pals are not downhearted.

Anyone outside the media bubble want HIM back ...

Not at the Mail on Sunday they aren’t: there, amid a fog of enthusiasm, invention and off-the-scale delusion, two names have been prevailed upon to spray what remains of their credibility up the wall in no style at all. Step forward the MoS’ political editor Glen Owen, and the paper’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste, Whinging Dan Hodges, for an alleged “exclusive”.

And the Fantasy Headline Special? “Boris could RETURN as Prime Minister in astonishing plan being hatched by disgruntled Conservative MPs - and 'dream ticket' leadership tie-up with Nigel Farage is even being considered!” This is, whisper it quietly, total crap. It isn’t going to happen.

There is more. “Sunak's Tory enemies have drawn up 'Advent calendar of s**t' to destabilise PM … Spokesman for Boris denied the existence of any plans to team up with Farage … A source close to Farage said any pact between the two would 'soon end in tears’”. Former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage would never take on a role that meant taking responsibility for anything. That’s one reason it’s crap.

Do go on. “The Mail on Sunday has spoken to multiple Conservative MPs who believe that bringing back the former Premier is the only way to save the party from an Election wipeout”. Was that belief before or after the third bottle of red? Anyhoo … Sunak’s enemies don’t like “his sacking of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary and the resignation of Robert Jenrick as Immigration Minister over attempts to salvage the Rwanda plan”.

Ms Braverman was beyond useless at her various ministerial jobs. And Jenrick has just gone on the Laura Kuenssberg show and played the “not racist BUT” card by claiming that those showing solidarity with the people of Palestine are not showing “traditional British values” by doing so.

... in a double act with HIM? No, thought not

Which is another way of saying he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow, either. Have another go. “The MPs are panicking about polling figures which show Tory support sinking, with many voters turning to the Reform Party, the successor to Nigel Farage's Brexit Party. Its fortunes have been boosted by Mr Farage's successful run on ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity.”

Reliable citation for that, perchance? Thought not. And it gets yet more delusional. “Neither Mr Johnson nor Mr Farage is currently in Parliament, but Boris's supporters believe that if an MP quit a safe seat before the Election to make way for Mr Johnson, Tory high command would be unable to block it”.

If an MP quit a safe seat”. Yeah, right. If that happened, the Tories would most likely lose the following by-election. Can it get worse? Don’t ask. “Another suggestion is that a Johnson ally, such as former Home Secretary Priti Patel, could be installed as a caretaker Prime Minister, with Mr Johnson standing for a safe seat at the Election, then stepping back in to No 10”.

Soil the bed, this is beyond desperate. If Ms Patel won the General Election, does anyone with brain in gear and a hole in their backside really think she would then step aside? And it gets worse still: “If Reform remained a threat, a deal could be struck by giving Mr Farage, the party's honorary president, and Richard Tice, its leader, places in the Lords and key Ministerial positions”.

Reform aren’t interested in keeping the Tories in Government. And this article shows that while the Tories are desperate, their allies in the press are yet moreso. Especially Desperate Dan Hodges, who backed Bozo for the London Mayoralty, the mess from which is still being cleared up by Sadiq Khan. Sunder Katwala has analysed the numbers on past support, and has shown just what a ridiculous idea the MoSdream ticket” is (thread HERE).

The Tories are beyond salvation. Including by their press pals. That is all.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Thursday 7 December 2023

Tories In Meltdown

Our free and fearless press can hold back the dam no more: the party for which most titles have been only too willing to shill is beginning a mid-air break-up as the stresses on its airframe have gone well beyond its design limits. The Tory party is in the process of spiralling out of control.

This brings one benefit: there is little problem in deflecting from the lamentable testimony before the Covid inquiry of their favourite, disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who swore an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and proceeded all too predictably to talk well, but lie badly.

Even seeing Bozo digging himself ever deeper into a hole of his own making, some out there want him back as party leader, conveniently forgetting what happened the last time he was in Number 10. BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nick Watt “has spoken to an ally of Boris Johnson who outlined a 3-year plan to re-install him as the Conservative leader”.

And there’s the rub: Tories fighting not only among one another, but fighting against reality. Bozo’s ratings were down the chute while he was still leader. Were he to be reappointed, the lying to the Queen to prorogue Parliament, trying to rewrite the rules to save Owen Paterson, lying about the Northern Ireland Protocol, lying about Jennifer Arcuri, lying about the Covid pandemic, the infamous VIP Lane, and all the other lying, would be revisited.

But that is where the Tories are at, with another fantasy Rwanda plan cobbled together by James Cleverly and Rishi Sunak, the latter now a LINO (Leader In Name Only), to the background of former failed Home Secretary Suella Braverman carping pointlessly from the sidelines, and immigration minister Robert Jenrick resigning because the Rwanda plan wasn’t cruel enough.

Exactly how anyone would know that Jenrick, an appallingly immodest man with much to be modest about, had resigned was a potentially challenging proposition - until the exchange of letters between Himself and Sunak was made public. Jenrick was typical of the New Conservatism.

As Alex Taylor reminded us, it’s “A man whose moral compass allows him to walk into a centre welcoming traumatized displaced children and ordering it to paint over its colour murals [and] is light years from the decent British values I for one grew up with”. Cat Neilan added context: “Tory MPs discussing all options from letters, to confidence vote - to snap election. Jenrick is ‘another Jenga block removed’, says one”. Another creep removed, more like.

Even the new Rwanda plan ran into problems as soon as it was disseminated. Cleverly, like his predecessor Ms Braverman, had to annotate it with the cautionI am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the Bill”. Then came another blow.

Paul Brand of ITV broke the bad news: “Rwanda government threatens to pull out of the deal if it does not adhere to international law. Hugely problematic - and potentially humiliating - for govt if its partner country decides the deal is too toxic”. Hundreds of millions for nothing. That’s not good enough.

That the pressure on the Tory party was coming from the right was confirmed by Adam Bienkov of Byline Times tellingConservative MP Mark Francois says it is ‘deeply worrying’ that Robert Jenrick has resigned and accuses James Cleverly of ‘ducking’ questions from MPs”. François (note cedilla under the c) is one of those with a merely transient hold on reality.

Even the Daily Mail is today in despair at the Tory infighting, wailing plaintively “Will the Tories EVER give up fighting each other and start fighting Labour?” But the penny never does drop with the right-wing press: what we see now is an inevitable consequence of what they urged upon the electorate. It is why so many overpaid pundits will wield so little clout come the next election.

The Tory party’s uncontrolled flight into terrain has not occurred. Not yet.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Wednesday 6 December 2023

Rupe Pays Out Millions AGAIN

Once again, a major news story - as in actual news, not recycled Government press releases, Royal family cheerleading, covering yet more Tory arses, kicking migrants or otherwise demonising hate figures - has not made it to today’s front pages, demonstrating once again that the power of the press is not just in what it chooses to print, but what it chooses not to print.

Chris Huhne - hacked ...

That story concerns the Murdoch mafiosi, and so the rest of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet instinctively know to fall in line: if it affects the Murdoch press, and the Murdoch press says nothing, then the rest must also say nothing. Creepy Uncle Rupe may be 92, but no-one doubts that he and his family are still strong. Best follow the herd.

What our free and fearless press is not telling you is that, as Press Gazette has reported, “A group of celebrities have received ‘substantial damages’ and public apologies from News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and previously News of the World, over unlawful information-gathering practices. Among the claimants are Spice Girl Melanie C, comedians Catherine Tate and Keith Allen and radio presenter Chris Moyles”.

There was more. “The publisher also paid damages to a victim of the London terror attacks on 7 July 2005, Davinia Douglass. She claimed that the publisher gathered information about her by deception, blagging and voicemail interception”. That last is most interesting - here’s why.

Ms Douglass was “The woman in the gauze mask”; she suffered burns in one of the July 7th 2005 London attacks. One of those helping her, first responder Paul Dadge, gave the press his mobile number, but instead of calling him to clarify the story, some hacks, or someone on their behalf, hacked it instead. Dadge, as campaigning group Hacked Off reported, “received undisclosed damages from News Group Newspapers … [in 2011]”.

Moreover, there was one more payout yesterday: “Former Lib Dem cabinet minister Chris Huhne was also reported to have received a substantial six-figure sum for damages and legal costs. Huhne was jailed in 2013 after swapping speeding points with his wife and lying about it”.

... but not by the Sun, honest

Hacked Off are on the case here, too: “He accused the publisher of unlawfully targeting him in a bid to intimidate him into silence over his calls for the publisher to be investigated over the hacking scandal”. You can read Chris Huhne’s statement HERE. If they all got six-figure payouts, those, together with the legal fees, will have been well into the millions of pounds.

As Huhne put it, “Searching for political kompromat, spying on government ministers for commercial gain, and knowingly telling repeated lies to maintain sales and ratings should all be utterly unacceptable in any responsible media organisation, yet are the stock in trade of the two Murdoch media companies”.

Also, as Professor Brian Cathcart has told in an article for Byline Times, “[Huhne’s] case is significant in several respects besides the questions it raises about the role of managers. It is the first of three brought by senior Lib Dem politicians (Sir Vince Cable and Sir Norman Lamb will follow) alleging hacking and other illegal information gathering that was driven by political rather than journalistic motives”. Two more big payouts on the way, then.

Huhne presented evidence … of an intensive campaign against him that continued when he was a Cabinet minister in the Cameron Coalition Government, and sitting on ministerial committees such as the National Security Committee. He presented evidence that these activities continued at least until 2011 - five years after the company … claimed it had been halted”.

His claim alleged illegal information gathering on behalf of the Sun. The Murdoch mafiosi denies that paper indulged in such practices, but has paid out one heck of a lot of money to prevent cases coming to court. As former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger put it, “Yet another insight into the media empire Rupert Murdoch presided over. Criminal behaviour, intrusion, lies and intimidation were part of the operating system”. Management by fear.

Enough for the rest of the press to leave well alone. Real Mafia behaviour.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Tuesday 5 December 2023

Migration - Tories Screw Up UK Again

Amid all the faux outrage over news that net inward migration to the UK was well into the hundreds of thousands, and not likely to drop to the five-figure level any time soon, few in and around our free and fearless press stopped and thought that, far from being a drag on the economy, those migrants were the only reason that economy had not fallen into recession rather earlier.

They come here, work hard, earn money, pay taxes, spend in the shops, and by doing so keep growth going - just about. But here, for the Tories and their desire to appease their right wing, a problem enters: most migrants now come mostly from outside the previously hated EU. Whisper it quietly, but most of those coming to the UK are in the Not White category.

Not, of course, that any of the papers slobbering over news of a much more restrictive immigration policy were playing the race card, you understand. After all, the policy could not be racist as the bloke who introduced it was himself Not White. That much is true, but those to whom the new rules are now being broadcast by the press certainly are. So how is it being pitched?

As ever, it was the Murdoch Sun (owned by a US citizen) and Rothermere Daily Mail (owned by a non-dom) in the vanguard, the latter proclaiming “BIGGEST EVER CLAMPDOWN ‘WILL SLASH MIGRATION BY 300,000’ … Salary threshold for foreign employees hiked to £38,000 … Curbs on care workers’ families … Now Cleverly flies out to seal Rwanda treaty”.

There was more. “JAMES Cleverly last night vowed ‘enough is enough’ as he unveiled tough reforms designed to slash net migration by 300,000 a year”. And the Sun? “Rishi Gets Tough On Migration … ACCESS DENIED … Plan to slash influx by 300,000 … PM to [the Sun] Enough is enough”. Neither title, nor any of the other right-wing rags, asked themselves the obvious question.

For the less well-off, that would be to ask how the NHS, and wider social care sector, would continue to function if the source of so many nurses and other carers were cut off. And for the well-off, which means most of the obscenely overpaid hacks and pundits feeding us this bullpucky, that would be where their cleaners, Au-Pairs, delivery drivers and baristas would come from.

Just to keep a few bigots sweet. That is how out of touch, out of ideas, and out of courage, the present Government has become. How it has to churn out unworkable and cruel policies in order to appease the press, which in turn churns out the propaganda that helps Tory poll numbers remain in the high 20s, rather than going down the chute into the teens, and then oblivion.

Indeed, quoting from a report from the Resolution Foundation - a body that gets an A rating for transparency from Who Funds You - Tom Bradby of ITV News has musedPicture a country going backwards, where workers haven't had a decent pay rise in 15 years, public services are on the verge of collapse, and the gap between rich and poor grows year on year”. Do go on.

That is how Britain was described today in a bleak and damming assessment of its economy. The failure to achieve all but negligible growth has left the average worker a simply staggering £10,000 a year worse off. And we're now lagging way behind countries we used to think of as equals. In Germany, middle income households are 20% richer than their UK peers”.

There was more. “We'd be here all night if we listed the failings identified in the 290 page report. But put simply, in almost every sector, the UK is just not productive enough”. Sam Freedman has addedthe UK is the *only* country in Europe where second generation immigrants outperform non-immigrant students. (And first generation don't do much worse)”.

He wasn’t finished: “our immigration is *actively improving* our education system (due to peer effects) … It's also making our system look more equitable because immigrants outperform their socio-economic status”. Put directly, immigration is not merely keeping the economy afloat, it’s also helping the UK in other ways. And the Tories are going to stop all that.

They fouled up the UK only partly. So now they intend to finish the job.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Sunday 3 December 2023

Telegraph UAE Sale Hypocrisy

After the banks effectively called time on the Barclay family’s ownership of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, both Daily and Sunday versions of the paper, together with the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, were put up for sale. But who would want to own the Tel, which had been trading on its brand for years, and become a propaganda sheet?

Ultimately, as the Tel itself reported in today’s edition, “Ownership of the Telegraph is set to pass to RedBird IMI, an investment fund led by Jeff Zucker, the former CNN boss, and backed by Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the UAE’s Royal family”. Oh no! Takeover by Scary Muslims™! Quick, get out the excuse generator! Dump on the Forrins!

And so it came to pass that Tel columnist Janet Daley, who turns 80 next year and may well be on her way out if that change of ownership goes through, pennedThe Telegraph’s proposed takeover by a foreign state must not be allowed to happen”. Do go on. “The US media company RedBird IMI, funded by the rulers of Abu Dhabi must not be permitted to take ownership of this newspaper. That statement should be obviously true”. Why not?

The only point worth considering here is that in a free society no government - including the country’s elected one - should own a news media outlet. The power wielded by a state must be, always and without qualification, separate from the presentation and analysis of information in the public domain. That principle has been one of the distinguishing differences between tyrannies and democracies in the modern world”. And there was more.

Even media outlets financed by public funding mandates like the BBC, or Channel 4 which is owned by a corporation that belongs to the government but is funded by advertising, have managerial and editorial independence”.

That’s in the “debatable” category, especially the Beeb. But do go on. “Are there really serious grown-ups who believe that social media has made newspapers - and real journalism - redundant, rather than more urgently needed than ever to hold the tidal wave of fakery and falsehood up to the light?”. For the Tel, that’s For Some Value Of “Real Journalism”. Carry on.

To those naive people, let me explain that a professional newspaper operation is not only subject to all the old legal constraints of libel and contempt, but a whole new battery of Ipso guidelines on accuracy and ethical procedure, overseen by inhouse enforcement officers, in which its trainees are rigorously instructed”. Shall we see how that plays out in the real world?

Let’s have a look at the Tel’s Wiki page. “In July 2014, the Daily Telegraph was criticised for carrying links on its website to pro-Kremlin articles supplied by a Russian state-funded publication that downplayed any Russian involvement in the downing of [MH17]”. Then there was the lack of coverage of that Swiss tax-dodging scandal to placate advertiser HSBC.

Peter Oborne had linked “the refusal to take an editorial stance on the repression of democratic demonstrations in Hong Kong to the Telegraph’s support from China”. What was that about “editorial independence”? And as to that “accuracy and ethical procedure”, ah well.

Anti-Semitism, anyone? Remember the George Soros front page splash? Two Tel pundits, Allister Heath and Sherelle Jacobs, have played the “Cultural Marxism” card. Accuracy? Covid-19 misinformation. Climate change denial. Using the Muslim-bashing Henry Jackson Society as a single source? The “Meghan cook book equals ISISstory, and the defamatory attack on scout leader Ahammed Hussain - damages, apology and costs - refer.

Foreign Governments dictating content. Agenda driven stories. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Islamophobia. And something else you never saw in the Tel while the Barclay family owned it - any mention of the Barclay family. Add to that the best the Tel can do to defend itself is an endorsement from Liz Truss, the comedy Prime Minister who was too useless even for the Tories.

If the Tel is sold to RedBird IMI, the standard of its journalism might even improve. It couldn’t get much worse. As for independence - yeah, right.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at


Saturday 2 December 2023

Bozo Covid Grilling And The Press

And so, with the certainty of night following day, the appearance before the Covid Inquiry of disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson draws near. He will be lightly grilled for two whole days next week, to the relief of those who thought it should have happened rather earlier. This gives his pals in our free and fearless press a problem.

The hearings are broadcast: editors and proprietors cannot stop their readers from tuning in, or seeing excerpts of Bozo fouling it up on TV, although his pals at Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) will do their best not to mention the grilling, or spin it in their new host’s favour. And they can all forget the tactic that has been used so far to distract the public.

That tactic has been to make sure they have a suitably large dead cat to sling on the table: last week’s stiff feline was elevating Omid Scobie’s book Endgame to the status of lead story, followed by righteous indignation at his discussing the Royals, which the press regards as their exclusive preserve. This was effective in heading off criticism of Michal “Oiky” Gove.

Gove’s testimony, and indeed that of Matt Hancock, was therefore mostly kept away from those who are still to change their votes to Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens in disgust at the Tories’ uselessness. But that dead cat has now been expended. The chance of securing another of that calibre are slim, even though papers like the Mail will even recycle press releases if need be.

Hence that paper thundering “Children as young as seven on pro-Palestinian rallies, reveals report … THOUSANDS SKIP SCHOOL TO GO ON GAZA MARCHES” this morning, having taken a report by right-wing lobby group Policy Exchange and dishonestly recycled it. But that won’t be enough when the Bozo grilling begins. People will tune in. They will see him louse up.

What, then, to do? Simples. An alternate reality has to be established before Bozo makes his appearance. This will avoid his wanting the bodies to pile high, erase any mention of Herd Immunity, and redefine those parties in Downing Street as excusable actions by people under the terrible stresses imposed by steering the country through the Pandemic.

Bozo will be presented as The Great Helmsman; readers will be reminded that avoiding even worse death figures was down to him. Whatever his flaws, only he was capable of such leadership, the kind of excuse given to a sceptical public in the last years of Francisco Franco and António de Oliveira Salazar (and no doubt Mrs T’s pal Augusto Pinochet, too).

You think I jest? The Murdoch Times has started out down that very road this morning with the headline “Johnson: My Covid decisions saved lives”. This heap of bullpucky is then tempered by a statement of the bleeding obvious: “But mistakes were made, ex-PM will tell Inquiry”. So what’s the story?

Boris Johnson will admit next week that he ‘unquestioningly made mistakes’ during the pandemic but insist that the decisions he took ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives … He will argue that he had a ‘basic confidence that things would turn out all right’ … He will insist that all three lockdowns came at the right time and in the process the Government saved tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives”. Of course he will.

This is, let us not drive it around the houses for too long, an exercise in mutual survival. Bozo met a host of editors and proprietors before a second lockdown did not happen. If his decisions are judged wrong, and they were influenced by those meetings, the press will also get it in the neck. Better to paint Bozo as the great modern Churchill, flawed but indispensable.

Our free and fearless press has its credibility on the line next week. As do Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay family, the Rothermeres, their CEOs and senior editors. On the face of it, it looks like covering for Bozo because he’s one of their own. But it’s also about exonerating them from influencing decisions that cost, as one estimate puts it, another 90,000 lives.

Bozo will appear before the Covid Inquiry not so much as a former PM, but more of cover for the Fourth Estate. And that’s not good enough.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at