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Saturday 15 June 2024

Nigel Farage - Real Anti-Semitism

Groups like the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, so keen to kick the Labour Party over anything they can call out as anti-Semitic, have developed a blind spot when it comes to the far right. And they don’t get much further far right than Reform UK’s self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who has a most interesting back story on the subject.

Anti-Semitic dog-whistling ...

Nige is getting a significant amount of media exposure during the General Election campaign, merely because the Tories are doing very badly, and Reform UK are doing relatively well. Added to this is the usual witless drivel from the Punditerati about Reform UK either replacing, or merging with, the Tories after the latter get the shellacking to end all shellackings on July 4.

As always with the far right, the media class is a major contributor to their rise: as it is in the UK, so it is in France with the Rassemblement National of the Le Pens, and indeed con merchants like André Ventura in Portugal with his one man band Chega. But in Farage’s case, the anti-Semitism remains unchallenged - even by groups who are supposedly there to call it out.

Take, for example, Mr Thirsty’s live-on-air rant on LBC in the days before they disposed of his services: “there are other very powerful foreign lobbies in the United States of America, and the Jewish lobby with its links to the Israeli Government is one of those strong voices”. Jewish in the USA equals foreign.

There was more. “Well, in terms of money and influence, they [the Jewish lobby] are a very powerful lobby … There are about six million Jewish people living in America, so as a percentage, it’s quite small, but in terms of influence it’s quite big”. Anti-Semitic tropes, anyone? Da Jooz running everything, divided loyalties? This, too, was not an isolated lapse.

Take, for instance, those dog-whistles that say “Jews” or “Jewish”, but use the code of nudge-nudgery. Like “Goldman Sachs”, for instance: “Goldman Sachs and big business lost the referendum” [HERE], "If Goldman Sachs are leaving London for the US, why aren't they going to their beloved European Union?" [HERE], and “Goldman Sachs & JP Morgan donating to Remain in EU campaign: the unholy alliance of big banks and big politics” [HERE].

... so why isn't it being called out?

Or the “Globalists” dog-whistle, as in “We are beating the globalists” [HERE] on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), “2016 was the year that nation state democracy made a comeback against the globalists” [HERE], and “The globalists are sticking together. They realise that there is a new movement across the West fighting for national democracy” [HERE].

Or how about both those dog-whistles together? “London is ranked the best financial centre while Frankfurt is 11th. We're all sick of the constant threats from Goldman and the globalists” [HERE], and of course “Rishi Sunak is a Goldman Sachs globalist, so this sellout of Brexit is not surprising. The Tories must be crushed” [HERE]. Then comes the ultimate anti-Semitic dog-whistle.

Yes, it’s SOROS! “George Soros' US money has been flowing into Europe in a huge way for many years” [HERE], “George Soros has spent billions in the EU to undermine the nation state” [HERE], “The Soros-funded attempt for a second referendum has failed” [HERE], and “Anyone who attacks George Soros is labelled an anti-Semite; however, the truth is that he funds the most appalling anti-Semitism seen in modern times” [HERE]. Oh What A Giveaway!

Nige, sadly, conflated “Jews” and “Israel” to stand that claim up, which, as any fule kno, is an anti-Semitic trope. He was still at it this week, claiming that he was being attacked by “the mob”, who were “professional protesters”, and funded by “The Soros-es”. So where is the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism?

Not, it seems, on Farage’s case. And this matters: perversely, even with Labour posting leads of over 20% over the Tories, Reform UK may be about to do something UKIP, under Farage’s leadership, could not, and that is to get him elected to the Commons, aided and abetted by many in the media class who he has played like marks for too many years.

You want real anti-Semitism? Forget the main parties. Nige is your man.

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Saturday 8 June 2024

Tory Desperation - Bozo Bigotry

Almost four weeks of campaigning still to go before the General Election, and the Tories’ attempt to remain in power has all but collapsed, after Rishi Sunak absented himself from part of the 80th anniversary D-Day commemorations, apparently because it was Forrin. One of his own cabinet, Penny Mordaunt, has had to distance herself from the action. Today’s headlines are dire.

The i Paper has “Tories in despair as Sunak D-Day gaffe ‘destroys’ election hopes”, while the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, admits “TRULY SORRY! PM’s ‘unreserved’ apology to Daily Express readers for ‘mistake’ over D-Day departure”, while the Guardian simply tells “Furious Tories turn on Sunak over D-Day snub”. Labour need do very little to win next month.

Worse, the fear among many Tories is that this will cede second place in the popular vote to Reform UK and their self-proclaimed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. So, in this moment of desperation, who would step forward to steady the ship, hopefully without making things worse?

Sadly for the Tories, that person was disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and worse still, the conduit for Bozo’s latest stream of consciousness rant was the Daily Mail, ruled over by its editor in chief, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. It was under Dacre’s editorship that the Mail launched its viciously anti-Semitic attack on the memory of Ralph Miliband, as a means of hobbling his son Ed.

This matters, as can be seen by the headline: “Sir Keir Schnorrer plans to slink into No10 as silently as Larry the cat - then lock us back in to the dungeon of Brussels, like a ball-chewing gimp”. ITV political editor Robert Peston heard the dog-whistle long and loud, and liked it not at all.

Boris Johnson today calls Starmer ‘Sir Keir Schnorrer’ (see attached). ‘Schnorrer’ is the Yiddish word for beggar and scrounger. It is pretty offensive. It was part of the lingua franca of my grandparents and of my childhood. I find it unsettling to see Johnson appropriating it to describe someone whose wife is Jewish - and especially when he says ‘if Schnorrer gets in, he will immediately begin the process of robbing this country of its new-found independence and make the UK the punk of the EU’”.

What the f*** have I got to do with this, c***?!?!?

He ended by adding “What do you think? Am I being over sensitive?” To which those responding in the affirmative were mainly out there on the right, few of whom seem to have noticed that Bozo has form for anti-Semitism, including in a book he wrote titled Seventy-Two Virgins.

As one letter to the Guardian noted, the book “describes ‘Jewish oligarchs’ who run the media, and fiddle the figures to fix elections in their favour … He portrays a Jewish character, Sammy Katz, with a ‘proud nose and curly hair’, and paints him as a malevolent, stingy, snake-like Jewish businessman who exploits immigrant workers for profit”. There was more on The Great Man.

As editor of the Spectator he chose to publish articles in which the notorious racist Taki Theodoracopulos boasted of being ‘an antisemite’, argued black people ‘have lower IQs than whites’ and praised Enoch Powell as a ‘great man'. Johnson defended Theodoracopulos, calling him a ‘distinguished columnist’”. Put that alongside Dacre’s past form, and look what you get.

Had Bozo just used a derivative of the word “snore”, to suggest Starmer was boring, there would have been no grounds for Peston, or anyone else, to feel uncomfortable about the headline. Although Bozo and the Mail could still be in hot water over the obviously BDSM use of the word “gimp” (including the word “dungeon” in the headline makes that one difficult to defend).

Even if action is taken, the Mail will take some shifting to remove the reference. What is worse is that we are still almost four weeks out from the poll - the derogatory content is only going to go in one direction. The problem the Mail has is not lawsuits, though, but the fact that their star columnist Bozo is damaged goods. He resigned in disgrace. Even the Tories wanted him out.

The Mail may have given up on Sunak. But they still want to hobble Labour.

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Thursday 6 June 2024

Why Labour Puts Out The Begging Bowl

Fighting a General Election is an expensive business, especially for parties looking to field candidates in every mainland seat. That means 630 or so candidates to get nominated, an equal number of deposits to pay, and thousands upon thousands of leaflets, along with all the other campaign material that helps to bring those all-important swing voters into the fold.

This does not trouble the Tories; the party of the establishment may be about to get the shellacking to end all shellackings, but it never seems to be a problem tapping their grotesquely overmonied donors. But Labour is having a problem, if the veritable tsunami of begging emails sent regularly to party members is a guide. Trust me on this: Labour members get lots of them.

Reminders of the alleged funding gap between the two main parties are frequent, usually accompanied by the suggestion that the email recipient bung The Red Team a quid. Or maybe three quid. Or five quid. Remember, they didn’t want to have to ask the favour, but look at that funding gap.

At which point a question occurs: was this not the party that, in the days when Jeremy Corbyn was leader, was flush with cash? Well, yes it was. And then came the lawsuits, along with Labour’s response to them. When an edition of the BBC Panorama strand titled “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” was aired, several of those involved were called out by the party as, effectively, bad faith actors.

So seven of them sued Labour, as did the programme’s presenter John Ware. Then, after Keir Starmer became leader, came the rumours that Labour was to settle with those suing. The Guardian noted in its reportThe Guardian understands legal advice provided to Labour under Corbyn’s leadership suggested the party could win the case”. Was new legal advice sought?

We don’t get to know. But, as the Guardian continued, “The Labour party has apologised 'unreservedly' and paid out a six-figure sum to seven former employees and a veteran BBC journalist, admitting it defamed them in the aftermath of a Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism”.

And then came another lawsuit. Make that more than one. A leaked internal report suggested that Labour HQ was working against the Corbyn leadership. For instance, “The report claims private communications show senior former staff ‘openly worked against the aims and objectives of the leadership of the Party, and in the 2017 general election some key staff even appeared to work against the Party's core objective of winning elections’”. There was also criticism of some of those Panorama whistleblowers. And there was more.

Labour took legal action against five people it claimed had leaked the report. Meanwhile, nine people who claimed their data had been misused also sued. But despite the advocacy of, among others, Mark Lewis of Patron Law, the case dragged on until it was dropped in September last year. It wasn’t the first high profile legal action that Lawman Lewis has seen fail recently.

Meanwhile, the action by Labour against Seumas Milne, Karie Murphy, Georgie Robertson, Harry Hayball and Laura Murray dragged on. Until it, too, was discontinued, the BBC reporting todayThe Labour Party has abandoned longstanding legal action against five former members of staff who have been accused of ‘conspiring’ against Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership”. Do go on.

The action is estimated to have cost the party millions of pounds, which critics said could otherwise have been spent on the general election campaign”. Did someone say millions plural? Indeed they did: “The most recent documents presented in open court last autumn showed that Labour had spent £1.5m on legal action, and estimated it would spend nearly £900,000 more … The party's final costs are likely to be higher, as these figures don’t reflect the full cost of the litigation”. Three mil? Four??

Now imagine what many Labour members will think, reading that report, or other similar ones in the press, and then getting more of those begging emails, along with requests to leaflet, canvas, and the rest. The party may well be 20 points ahead in the polls. But that news will hurt.

And it’s all self-inflicted. By the current leadership. Can you spare a quid?

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Tuesday 4 June 2024

Farage - The Con Man Returns

As if there were not enough charlatans, spin merchants, one trick ponies, habitual liars, and other practitioners of self-aggrandisement in play during the run-up to next month’s UK General Election, yesterday brought one more con man into the mix. Reform UK’s self-appointed Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was back in the swimming pool. As the resident turd.

The inevitable news came as Mr Thirsty told his adoring followers yesterday “I will be making an Emergency General Election announcement at 4pm today”. He would take over as head man of Reform from Richard Tice. And, as ITV News then told, he “has said he will stand as the Reform UK parliamentary candidate for Clacton, Essex, in the General Election”.

Thus performing two functions likely to move the dial: One, taking votes from the Tory right, and Two, frightening Muslim voters, and indeed many others who are not white, back to Labour, or, in some areas, the Lib Dems. The net result of all that, whether Farage is elected or not, will be to move the Tories closer to Absolute Wipeout. And probable third party status.

That, though, was not a good enough excuse to plaster Mr Thirsty all over the media, something that has carried over onto many front pages this morning, with the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph proclaiming “I’m back to lead the revolt”. What intercoursing revolt? More accurate was the Guardian’sTory alarm as Farage takes control of Reform UK”.

What a difference Combover Crybaby Donald Trump’s conviction makes: Farage was on his way to the USA to lend his backing to the increasingly incoherent orange lump; 34 unanimous Guilty verdicts later, no he isn’t. So what would his USP be? Same as before. He’s dog whistling potential voters with scare stories of Scary Muslims™. Same old racism.

Having accused British Muslims of “split loyalties” (recycling an anti-Semitic trope as Muslim bashing to make it acceptable), of their being a “fifth column”, and more recently claimed that a Muslim proclaiming “Allahu Akhbar” was something deeply sinister, rather than merely saying “God is Great”, which he wouldn’t complain about if the speaker were Christian. Or Jewish.

(c) Steve Bell 2016

By this morning, the habitual lying had kicked in, as he told Mishal Husain on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme that there were entire streets in Oldham where no-one spoke English. But Ms Husain, like the Beeb’s Ben Thompson, was not persuaded this time round of Farage’s righteousness. Which caused The Great Man to get tetchy and even abusive. It won’t get any better for him.

Not when he is on record as sayingRichard Tice probably does want me to replace him. But do I want to be an MP? Do I want to spend every Friday for the next five years in Clacton?” As the previously best placed candidate, Labour’s Jovan Owusu Nepaul should have that one ready to roll out to any and every voter who even hints at voting for The Thirsty One.

What Reform UK’s opponents should also point out is that this is a party that still wants to dump the country’s problems on migrants, wants to leave the ECHR (why? Oh, I dunno, maybe cos it’s FORRIN), and even wants to leave the World Health Organisation, because Covid Lockdown Conspiracy Theories. What next, leaving the UN? Leaving NATO?

And why do so many media opportunities open up to someone whose party has (for instance) no MPs and just eight councillors, when (for instance) the Greens can muster a regularly re-elected MP and hundreds of councillors? Why pay attention to Farage, who has no plan, and will take responsibility for nothing? Why take any notice of this flap-mouthed con artist?

He gets to take part in the TV debates. Then he’ll most likely lose - for the eighth time - and work to use his newly heightened profile to drag the Tories even further to the right. Screwing over the UK through advocating for leaving the EU was not enough for him: now he wants to screw over UK politics as well.

Which means he needs to be held to account, and exposed for the Spiv he is, and always was. He has no solutions, no plan, and no right to shit on us all.

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Monday 3 June 2024

Luke Akehurst - “Really Nice Guy”

The tone deaf attitude of those in the Westminster bubble - whatever their stripe - has been on show in the run-up to July’s General Election, with party insiders lining up, or being lined up, for seats some way from their stamping ground. And going for the distance record for Labour has been professional lobbyist and backroom organiser Luke Akehurst of Labour Files infamy.

Luke Akehurst

Akehurst has been imposed as the prospective Parliamentary candidate for the seat of North Durham. This is well north of 200 miles away from Oxford, where he resides, and where he was a councillor until losing to the Greens. Adding fuel to this particular fire is that his day job, at time of typing, was as Director of an organisation called We Believe In Israel. What that?

This entity came out of the British Israel Communication and Research Centre, founded after the beginning of the Second Intifada. We Believe in Israel is BICOM's pro-Israel advocacy organisation in the United Kingdom. So Akehurst advocates for Israel, which is fair enough, and he makes no secret of his role, or, indeed, where his sympathies lie - with Israel.

The problem comes when, as is expected given the overall polling numbers, he becomes an MP, which is a full-time job in itself. He can’t be lobbying for any other organisation, whether it’s a nation state, multinational organisation, or anything else, at the same time. We’ve seen enough lobbying scandals with the Tories. So when is Akehurst going to commit to only being an MP?

And no, this is not and cannot be about anti-Semitism: that would mean conflating Israel with All Jews, which, as the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism points out, is in itself an anti-Semitic trope. Nor is Akehurst Jewish: he is, though, an unswerving Zionist. One who has garnered a significant amount of adverse comment, so that the propaganda machine has been deployed.

This has resulted in a most favourable item in the Guardian, which concedes “he has stridently defended Israel’s actions in Gaza as proportionate” before deploying the soft soap, an unnamed colleague claiming “One of the things that’s interesting about Luke’s reputation is that he’s much nicer than the internet thinks he will be … People who don’t like him turn up to have a row with him, and find a really nice guy”. Let’s see how “really nice” he appears.

After one Tweeter declared “I am a LP member and I would have voted for Dave Nellist in Erdington”, he respondedName and CLP please”. The same Tweeter’s “I know of Birmingham, Coventry,Bristol, Oxford and London CLP members who doorstepped for Nellist” brought the responseNames please”.

Threatening, much? Maybe he was joshing. Er, maybe not: “I'm on the NEC and therefore responsible for upholding the rules of the party and you appear to have committed an auto exclusion offence”. Maybe the beatings will stop when morale improves. Maybe anyone on the left who came out with that would have been all over the right-wing press for some time afterwards.

There is also Akehurst’s (admitted) belief that the UN is anti-Semitic, and the jaw-dropping claim that Jews were “politically black”. That’s quite the reach, after Martin Forde’s report detailed what was described as a “hierarchy of racism” within Labour. Anti-Semitism was dealt with promptly, as it should be, but anti-Black racism was, apparently, not. Maybe things have changed.

What, then, of this “really nice guy” rocking up at Pelton Community Centre yesterday to meet his adoring team? Predictably, there was a protest outside, and it has been alleged that some in the local party were less than totally impressed when they were refused the opportunity to question The Great Man. Some most unfortunate video footage is now in circulation.

Gary Spedding, who campaigns for Palestinian rights, and also against anti-Semitism, summed it up: “Today protestors who turned out against Luke Akehurst's candidacy were subjected to - threats and intimidation - physical violence - Islamophobic and anti-semitic remarks - Nasty insults and harassment”. Responding with “Name and CLP?” won’t impress anyone.

Maybe he really is “a really nice guy”. Or maybe that claim is total horseshit.

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Saturday 1 June 2024

Oh Tommy Tommy - Still A Racist

It was back in late April 2017 that Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, knocked very loudly at my front door in the dead of night to claim - wrongly - that I had been telling lies about him. He had taken grave offence to having been called a racist. So in the cause of free speech, he would do his best to deprive me of my ability to do just that.

Lennon rocked up the next night too, and thus The Curse Of Zelo was, and indeed remains, upon him. A variety of scrapes with the law, and unsuccessful legal actions, later, and he is still telling packs of lies about anyone and everyone who done him wrong. Today, his particular bête noire is something else that is untrue - the claim that there is “two tier Policing”.

In pursuit of leveraging this claim for the benefit of Himself Personally Now, The Great Man has fronted a gathering of the Gammonati in central London today, accompanied by washed-up former minor thesp, never-was chanteur, and dead on arrival failed politician Laurence Fox. This would show the world that Lennon was not only active, but in London!

And there was more: not only would there be that gathering, Lennon would première his latest video production, an item called Lawfare. The cops requested a sight of this magnum opus, but at this point Lennon bristled. “I made the film, I’m a journlalist [yeah, right], and I’m going to play the documentary. It’s unreasonable and overreaching of the Police to interfere”.

Was it now? Do go on. “There’s nothing inciteful, nothing that breaks the law, it’s not inflammatory towards other communities, I promise you that. We had people asking to play videos of Mohammed. There’s nothing like that happening, I assure you … we’re talking about freedom of speech, we’re talking about the Government, the establishment and [abuse of power]”.

Lennon is then asked for a sight of the video. His response is unequivocal. “Lads … lads … straight up, you’re not viewing it … your job, and our job, is to facilitate a peaceful protest. Obviously if you try and prevent the airing of the film, you know you’re not going to do that. You know you’re going to provoke a serious reaction, and cause chaos”. Is he making threats?

Whatever. Let’s compare Lennon’s assurance that there was “nothing like” Mohammed, and test the claim by studying the banner behind which he and Dear Dear Larry marched. A banner that said “THIS IS LONDON, NOT LONDONISTAN”. That would suggest very strongly that Lennon flat-out lied to the cops in that phone call. And it would suggest he is still a racist bigot.

Reinforcing that thought is the appearance behind the banner of failed amateur kidnapper Danny Tommo. Further reinforcement was provided by little children loudly shouting “Allah! Allah! Who the fuck is Allah?” with video provided by racist organisation Turning Point UK, who told “Young children join in on a chant criticising Allah at the anti-two-tier policing demo in London”.

The “peaceful” protest was interrupted - but peacefully, you understand - by several of those attending giving Nazi salutes. Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate saw two Lennon fans outside a phone box and musedNice to see Tommy Robinson supporters relieving themselves in public”. Usually, they take turns to use the phone box as a pissoir. Not the Lennon brains trust.

But let’s cut to the chase here: this is just another excuse to dust off the Islamophobia, with another chant, “Allah Allah you’re a c***”, providing yet more of that reinforcement. And the Islamophobia is, in itself, another excuse to start smearing all brown people as “Pakis”, a loaded and blatantly racist term. Lennon claims it’s not about Mohammed, or racism. He is lying.

The Nazi salutes, the little kids effing and blinding, the clear attempt to smear London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the use of the loaded hate term “Londonistan”, and above all, the refusal to give the Metropolitan Police a sight of his not-really-inflammatory-towards-other-communities film, brings us to one conclusion: Lennon was a racist when I called him out for it in 2017.

And he’s still a racist. One who is promoting Himself Personally Now.

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Tuesday 28 May 2024

Diane Abbott And Labour Lying

As dawn broke today, whatever the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press threw at them, Labour were out in the distance, and looking at a majority well into three figures come the General Election. By lunchtime, that same party was in deep doo-doo, and sinking deeper. A week was once a long time in politics; maybe that period is now a little shorter.

What happened can be put directly: long-serving MP Diane Abbott had made an assertion in an article thatJewish, Irish & traveller people undoubtedly experienced prejudice but that they were not subject to racism ‘all their lives’”. There were howls of protest at her remarks, and allegations of anti-Semitism, with Irish and Traveller people not getting a look-in.

Labour launched an investigation into Ms Abbott’s comments. Since then, all enquiries as to whether she would be allowed to stand as an MP at the next General Election have been deflected: there was an investigation, we must wait for it to conclude. Keir Starmer was especially keen to point this out to whoever was asking. And then, today, came inconvenient reality.

The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire launched the explosive device at 0739 hours: “I can reveal Labour’s investigation into suspended MP Diane Abbott’s racism comments finished 5 months ago. A source says she was given a ‘formal warning’ in Dec ’23. Ms Abbott was required to do an online ‘anti semitism course’ - which she did in Feb”. OH DEAR, KEIR. And there was more.

Yet source says she still hasn’t been told if she can stand as a Labour candidate at election. I understand veteran MP is ‘angry, depressed & worn out’ by way she feels she’s been treated by Labour”. So not only Starmer, but every other Labour figure who echoes the line on the investigation not having concluded, had misled their audience. What was it Gordon Brown said?

His reproach of Damian McBride was short and to the point. “Don’t. It’s the lie that gets you”. Now it has got Starmer. So, having been caught with his pants well and truly alight, what to do? What would a sensible and pragmatic Prime Minister in waiting have done? What would a politician wanting to dispel thoughts of dishonesty have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

Sadly, it seems that the Labour leader’s office does not operate on such a lofty intellectual plane. Having already claimed that Ms Abbott’s suspension had nothing to do with him - restoration of the whip, with the chief whip reporting to him, has everything to do with him - the last thing Starmer needed was evasion, not owning up to having misled the electorate.

Instead, official radio silence has descended. Starmer would have known about the investigation concluding; he lied about that. The impression of forthright dishonesty is now inescapable. Rumours swirl about not making a decision on whether Ms Abbott can stand in time for her to run as an independent, as former leader Jeremy Corbyn has done.

Those rumours are now caught up in further rumours about long-serving Labour MPs being asked to retire, so pro-Starmer favourites from the NEC can be gifted safe seats. And all the while, right-wing newspapers and other media outlets are forming up a damning characterisation of a Prime Minister in waiting as not only dishonest, but evasive, devious and untrustworthy.

Will today’s revelation blow Labour off course? Don’t bet against it.

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Monday 27 May 2024

Carry On Conscription

Your party is more than 20 points adrift in the polls. MPs are in open revolt over your decision to call a General Election without keeping them in the loop. Many of those MPs have decided not to stand at the election. You need to avert an imminent and historic wipeout. What would a sensible and pragmatic leader have done? What would Nietzsche have done?

Sadly for his party, Rishi Sunak does not operate on such a lofty intellectual plateau. And so it came to pass that the amateur Prime Minister, having been ambushed by the media during a pointless visit to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter - the Tories do not field any candidates in Northern Ireland - he doubled down on his not-telling-his-MPs-first with a truly wacko policy proposal.

He would, if the Tories were returned to power, introduce National Service. Not the National Service whose last intake was in 1960, and which was lampooned in the first Carry On film Carry On Sergeant, you understand. This would be different, promoting a “shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country”. Yeah, right.

So what would Sunak’s plan entail? “The proposed new scheme would not be conscription, where people are legally required to join the armed forces for a period. But it would compel people by law to complete a community programme over a 12-month period, or enrol in a year-long military training scheme, when they turn 18”. And where did this bright idea originate?

It seems to have emerged from another of those alleged “think tanks”, called Onward, whichhas been described as ‘close to Rishi Sunak's Downing Street’. It was founded in 2018 by Will Tanner, Martyn Rose, and Neil O'Brien. The think tank's advisory board is chaired by Daniel Finkelstein. The founders state that Onward would operate in the mainstream of conservative politics, and is a reaction to the ‘lack of energy on the centre right’”.

Sadly, Onward does not appear to have thought through such inconvenient details as how the Tories would pay for this non-starter. As such, they have been ridiculed after it was discovered that the money would have to come from their much-vaunted “levelling up” scheme. And it got worse.

While hapless Home Secretary James Cleverly ruled out criminal sanctions for teenagers who refused to participate in any part of the scheme, saying: "There's no-one going to jail over this", Anne Marie Trevelyan declared that the employment prospects of refuseniks “could be affected”. Cleverly was also asked what kind of community work might be involved.

National Service could be uniformed public services … Special constable … On call fire-fighter … Emergency health responder … Environmental protection … Flood defence work”. In other words, getting actual full-time paid work done on the cheap. Way to shrink the economy, Tories. Worse still, not all Tories are signed up to this scheme. And some are saying so.

Steve Baker, one of those standing and fighting rather than calling it a day, has toldIn that context, before any more policy is announced, I want to be absolutely clear where I stand for the electors of Wycombe: I am for liberty under the rule of law and Parliamentary democracy. History has proven time and time again that liberty under law - not compulsion and planning - is the surest road to peace and prosperity”. Sounds like a No, then.

That’s before the inevitable questions which will come Sunak’s way, like whether his children will be expected to serve. Or maybe he expects to lose and emigrate. Even the slavishly Tory Telegraph has told readers “Young Royals face National Service in Sunak plan”. The press isn’t keen.

And while the Mail has tried to keep up flagging pro-Tory spirits by claiming “Bold scheme will ‘open doors’ for teenagers when applying for jobs and University, says PM”, the Guardian has a message from the military. “Sunak’s National Service plan is ‘bonkers’, says ex-military chief”. The first fruits of his not-really-a-relaunch have already withered and died.

Without Labour having to break sweat. Third party behind the Lib Dems it is.

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Saturday 25 May 2024

Brave Sir Michael Ran Away

As campaigning gets underway in earnest for the General Election, an increasing number of Tory MPs have considered the prospects for their re-election, concluded that they might just get unseated by either Labour or the Lib Dems, and concluded “stuff this for a game of soldiers”. Some who should be returned with comfortable majorities have also joined the exodus.

A talent not to be sniffed at. Allegedly

So it was that the number of those deciding to spend more time counting their piles of money, or take up alternative employment, or merely figure out that they have made so many years’ contributions to their pension and can put their feet up, reached the number who left Parliament in 1997, the last time the Tories experienced a shellacking on the scale expected this time.

However, and here we encounter a seriously sized however, back then, “Shagger” Major had already lost his majority. Today’s exodus was not, as a percentage of Tory MPs, as significant. Until the magic figure of 75 was exceeded, with the addition to the departure list of Michael “Oiky” Gove.

It was Gove, so we were told by the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who had given Rishi Sunak his rousing support at Cabinet, declaring “Who dares wins. And you have dared, PM, and will win”. Now he’s running away. Along with Andrea Leadsom, who for some reason was considered a legitimate candidate for the Tory leadership after Young Dave bungled the EU referendum and also ran away. Someone else could clear up the mess.

The news did not go down well with right-leaning pundits, not least the terminally useless Tim Montgomerie. Monty’s first effort was simply “F**k”. Then it got worse. “THE TORY CAMPAIGN IS NOW IN COMPLETE AND UTTER MELTDOWN (And, yes, I AM SHOUTING HYSTERICALLY) … + I DID WARN TORY MPs THAT SUNAK WAS USELESS AT POLITICS”.

As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. But he wasn’t finished. “Where is Crosby? Where is Fullbrook? The lunatics (and amateurs) have taken over the asylum”. Maybe Gove got a job offer from Creepy Uncle Rupe and thought it more appealing than losing to the Lib Dems.

Meanwhile, ITV Political Editor Robert Peston had more bad news. “Senior Tories expect a significant number of further MP resignations over the weekend, in the wake of Gove’s and Leadsom’s decisions not to fight the election. Quite a number who have been re-approved as candidates have been in two minds, and thought they had till the autumn to decide. The party has more than 150 seats and rising with no candidate.” There was more.

That is a lot of candidates for CCHQ to find before 7 June and a lot of wasted campaigning days. It does rather indicate Sunak called the election before his party was ready”. It’s almost as if Gove throwing in the towel kicked away the supports. In 1997, the Tories held their discipline almost to the end of the campaign. This time, they’ve lost it before they even get started.

Who else is going, rather than become part of multiple Portillo Moments? Sunak seems to have taken the prospect on board, with the Guardian’s Kiran Stacey tellingSunak is going to take a day off the trail tomorrow in a highly unusual move so early in the campaign. He will spend it at home in talks with his senior aides. But the Tories insist this is NOT a campaign relaunch.

With another poll, this time from Techne UK, showing the Tories polling so badly that they would end up with so few seats, the Lib Dems would become the official opposition, many MPs will be asking themselves Harry Callahan’s immortal question: “Do I feel … lucky?” Who will be the next big name to jump? Jacob Rees Mogg? Jeremy Hunt Hunt Hunt Hunt Hunt?

Even the most slavishly Tory supporting papers are getting the jitters, with the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, howlingNOW GOVE QUITS! MINISTER’S SHOCK EXIT ROCKS TORIES”. The Mail has kept “Oiky” off the front page, but has given its main headline to Rachel Reeves, claiming an alleged “exclusive”. The Murdoch Sun has no front page politics at all.

That not-a-relaunch had better be special. Otherwise it’s Tory game over.

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Thursday 23 May 2024

Whingeing In The Rain

The tell-tale signs had been there earlier yesterday, as more than one cabinet minister ducked out of media and other appearances. So when amateur Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped out of 10 Downing Street into a torrential downpour - there’s a bad omen if ever one was needed - it was obvious that he was about to do what Denis Healey once called “cut and run”.

Sadly for Sunak, such was his Billy No Mates presence that there was not even someone to hold an umbrella. Nor was his team sensible enough to change the venue to the Downing Street media room. And so it was that the electorate was told that the Tories were out of ideas, and out of time. There would be a General Election on the fourth of July. Independence Day, eh?

That date is also Independence Day in Rwanda. Oh the irony! Such was Sunak’s timing that, together with a Labour commitment to end the farce of deportations to that country, that no deportation flights will happen. Even though Sunak had said they would. Instead, his briefing to the assembled media was turned into a whingefest directed at Keir Starmer.

Not that too many will have remembered that, after someone (wasn’t Steve Bray, was it?) blasted the 1997 New Labour signature anthem “Things Can Only Get Better” from the end of Downing Street. The Guardian’s Pippa Crerar musedInauspicious start to campaign”, while even Laura Kuenssberg had to admit Sunak’s presentation was “not the authority of credibility”.

Meanwhile, after the Tories continued to alienate the media by chucking Sky News out of Downing Street, came Starmer’s response. James Chapman was impressed. “Well that Starmer speech was streets ahead of Sunak's, both in terms of the optics and content, with a compelling change narrative. I suspect Starmer is going to surprise on the upside in a campaign”.

That alienation, as Rachel Cunliffe of the Staggers pointed out, was not trivial: “It's not just journos but MPs, spads, MINISTERS who got the green light from No10 that the summer was safe. That's a lot of ill will to kick off a campaign with. From those on your own side”. Then came a truly wacko intervention by Christopher “No” Hope of GB “News”.

Some furious Conservative MPs are tonight working on a plot to CALL OFF the general election by replacing Rishi Sunak as leader before Parliament is dissolved next Thursday”. But all it tells us is that there are those in the right-leaning media who are prepared to spray their credibility up the wall by recycling anything the Tories tell them. While backing The Blue Team.

Just what that will look like can be seen from this morning’s front pages. The Murdoch Sun brings us the news while avoiding using the photo of Sunak getting drenched outside No 10. Not quite “The Sun backs Blair”, is it? And the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph was also on message.

Obedient pundits were grovelling from the off, with Jeremy Warner declaring “The economic stars are aligned”, and wacko Janet Daley claiming “Starmer will be worrying now”. The Daily Brexit, still called the Express, told its faithful readers “The Prime Minister made a rallying cry for Express readers to get behind him”, and the Mail pontificated “Rishi seizes the initiative”. Like heck he did. Also, the Mail has more inside. Maybe too much more.

Sarah Vine obediently tells “This is about Sunak the man taking control and fighting his case head on”, while deeply unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn, live from North Vero Beach in Florida, concludes “Time for Rishi to summon up the blood, go for broke”. Not for nothing did Michael Heseltine decideIt is going to be the most dishonest General Election of my lifetime”.

The Tories are going to get a shellacking. But they might get a worse shellacking later. Hence Sunak deciding he had to turn and face his pursuers, despite teeing off many on his own side. And his media pals will back him to the hilt, despite the UK having been made a laughing stock over the past 14 years of inept and indeed corrupt leadership. That’s who they care about.

Rich people paying the desperate and greedy of the media to support their continued enrichment. This time the voters might just ignore them.

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Tuesday 21 May 2024

ICC - Quiet Part Said Out Loud

I uphold international law. Once we go away from that, we shall not know where we are … if we are not going to live by a system of international law, we are going to live by international anarchy. Then no people anywhere in the world are safe … You cannot be selective in your defence of law - you cannot say ‘I like that law, I will uphold that one, I will not uphold the other’”.

Margaret Thatcher was unequivocal in the matter of international law. Sadly, her successors out there on the right cannot muster even a small fraction of her certainty. Not when the international law delivers a result that is inconvenient to them, as it has with senior figures in the Israeli Government.

As the BBC has reported, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angrily condemned the International Criminal Court's prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants for him alongside Hamas's leaders over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict … he rejected with disgust that ‘democratic Israel’ had been compared with what he called ‘mass murderers’”. Why seek the warrants?

The chief ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza … The ICC is also seeking a warrant for Hamas's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes”. Hence Netanyahu imagining the equivalence.

Some commentators have dismissed the ICC move because Israel has not recognised the ICC, and so its remit cannot apply in that country. However, Palestine HAS recognised the body, and unless the Israeli Government is trying to suggest that Gaza is already part of Israel, anything their armed forces get up to there can be legitimately scrutinised by the ICC.

But if the IDF has observed the rules of war, and the various Geneva Conventions, what’s the problem? The investigation runs its course and that’s that. Except some do not want that investigation to proceed further. The vicious hostility, smears, and outright threats against the ICC started up as soon as the news that warrants were being sought emerged.

Still given a berth by the Murdoch Times, Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips had already claimedBuried facts about the Gaza war … Connect the dots: It’s America and Iran against Israel”, and has now gone one better with “Courting infamy … The ICC prosecutor's blood libel is part of the pincer movement for Israel's destruction”. Holding those suspected of enabling mass killing to account is now “blood libel”.

Elsewhere in our free and fearless press, demonising of Palestinians is being ramped up, with over-promoted former Royal hack Camilla Tominey, now at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, claimingAdmitting Gazan refugees would be proof that Britain has a death wish … We have no idea how many Palestinians support their murdering, raping masters”.

It wasn’t going any better over in DC. Andrew Solender of Axios observed, “Speaker Mike Johnson confirms a vote to sanction the ICC is under consideration over the Netanyahu arrest warrant application. ‘Congress is reviewing all options, including sanctions, to punish the ICC and ensure its leadership faces consequences if they proceed.’”. However.

As Sarah Leah Whitson pointed out, “Efforts to retaliate against the [ICC] are themselves a violation of the Rome Statute (Art 70) for which the prosecutor can bring charges and sentence offenders for up to 5 years, and urge other states to criminally prosecute them”. Johnson is from the Republican right. And he’s done everyone a favour, by saying the quiet part out loud.

Tom London summarised the Oh What A Giveaway moment from those threatening the ICC. “Cynical, arrogant US & Western exceptionalism laid bare … Billions of people live in the Global South and see very clearly the reality of Western ‘law and rules apply for YOU but do not apply for US’”. Not only US, but OUR PALS. Three Hamas leaders are also in the ICC’s sight, but that fact is lost amid the storm at Netanyahu being named.

Accusations of anti-Semitism are also being made. No change there, then.

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Saturday 18 May 2024

Kemi Badenoch Sells The Pass

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch represents the constituency of Saffron Walden, sitting on a majority of more than 27,500. As such, she is one of the few Tories likely to survive even the most serious swing away from her party come the General Election. This means she can afford the occasional lapse into serious stupid territory, such as her latest “Brexit Freedoms” whopper.

Kemi Badenoch

This has come via the obedient recycling of a press release by the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, where readers were toldPavement dining to become a 'permanent feature of the high street' as Business secretary Kemi Badenoch announces plans to remove red tape for pubs, restaurants and cafes to make the most of 'Brexit freedoms’”. Ri-i-i-ight. Do go on.

Kemi Badenoch yesterday announced a package of reforms to boost businesses. Plans unveiled by the Business Secretary include proposals to remove regulations that make it hard for pubs, restaurants and cafes to get permission to serve customers outside”. And given the by-line of the Mail’s political editor Jason Groves. Billed as “Brexit freedoms”.

There was more. “Pubs could also be given the automatic right to sell takeaway pints. Temporary allowances were granted during the pandemic but are due to expire next year”. Is this another of those “Brexit freedoms”? Whatever. “Small firms like cafes and corner shops could be permitted to 'self-certify' for some functions, meaning they would not be 'subjected to needless inspections or mandatory training courses' before they can serve customers”. But there is a problem with this meaningless drivel.

Despite quoting Ms Badenoch (or “Mrs” Badenoch in last-Century Mail speak) more or less verbatim, telling “This Government is seizing the benefits of Brexit by reducing burdens on business, pushing down the cost of living, and driving growth in every corner of the economy”, someone doesn’t get it.

One problem Groves did not have with his article was finding photos to illustrate the idea of “pavement dining”. Because - especially in big cities, like, er, London, within walking distance of Parliament, and indeed the Mail’s offices, there is rather a lot of “pavement dining”. And it gets worse.

There is also a significant amount of “pavement drinking”, as anyone who has visited places like the Euston Tap will know. This is on account of most drinking space at such places not being inside the building that dispenses the beer. Outside tables, tall ones for standing, and a more normal height for sitting and eating, are an established feature of many outlets.

For starters, that allows those who cannot manage without a smoke to visit and enjoy the food and drink on offer. And the idea that this is a “Brexit freedom” is bunk. From where I live, a trip across the river to Lisbon brings home the reality that in many of the city’s streets, there is so much outside seating that just walking has become a veritable obstacle course.

Indeed, I can think of one craft beer outlet where all the seating is outside on the street (AMO Brewery on the Rua Bernardim Ribeiro, for those asking). One of the most recommendable Bifanas (look it up) in town, from the hole in the wall at Afonso’s just off the Rua Madalena, has to be consumed standing up, or sitting under the big tree nearby. This is not a rarity.

The demand for seating at the legendary A Brasileira café is for the outside kind. Because guidebook and people watching. And seeing how many punters you can cram on to one of those passing trams (officially 58, which is grim enough, but unofficially rather more). Portugal is an EU member state and likely to remain so. This claimed “Brexit freedom” ISN’T.

But such is the grovelling subservience of the Mail, part of its desperation to prop up the rapidly-eroding credibility of the Government, that it is prepared to have its political editor put his name to this slice of baloney, mainly because Ms Badenoch is seen as a rising star of the Tory party. This is thin gruel to put before the readers. Which just enforces the sense of impending wipeout.

The voters know what pavement dining is like. They’ve visited the EU.

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Thursday 16 May 2024

Labour Tells Press - Please Kick Us

Whatever our free and fearless press does, the Labour Party will not lift a finger against it. That’s now their policy. Think about that for a moment: no more the promise that Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry will be given the green light by a future Labour Government, no commitment to press accountability, no regard to all the victims of press misbehaviour. No bugger all.

Can we play nicely, press people?

That less than optimum situation has been spelled out by Professor Brian Cathcart in an article for Byline Times, with the sub-heading giving us the all-important context “Days after four more current national newspaper editors were accused of having acted unlawfully, the party’s media spokesperson rules out future action on press accountability”. There is more.

Four current national newspaper editors are among dozens of journalists named in claims against the Mail papers as having engaged in unlawful information gathering … Tony Gallagher (editor of the Times of London), Ben Taylor (Sunday Times), Victoria Newton (Sun) and David Dillon (Mail on Sunday) stand accused of having broken the law, … by a group of people including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sir Simon Hughes, Prince Harry and Elton John”. And the Labour response to this state of affairs?

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow culture secretary and thus its spokesperson on media affairs … was asked to confirm that Labour would not ‘seek to revive the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry (which was cancelled by the Tories in 2018 and which was supposed to investigate criminality in the media). And she replied ‘Yes’”. Do go on.

We have to make sure that, no matter what, we do protect our free press. When I say “no matter what’, I don’t mean: they’re not allowed to break the law, they’re not allowed to harass people - that’s already a criminal offence. So there are plenty of things that are covered by criminal law” she claimed.

And that wasn’t all: “There is already media regulation, there is already the criminal and civil law. We don’t have plans to do anything, any new legislation in that area, no.” We know just how effective the current regulatory environment is regarding the press. It isn’t. IPSO is not fit for purpose.

Here's your answer

As Professor Cathcart notes, “the timing is appalling” for Ms Debonnaire. With a General Election only months away, she is telling a press cohort overwhelmingly hostile to Labour that the party all that distance out there in the lead in every opinion poll will not so much as say boo, whatever the press does. Why that is a supremely unwise decision is not difficult to see.

Whatever dirt the right-wing press has on senior Labour figures can be dished with no fear of any comeback. This means that Peter Mandelson, for some reason brought into Keir Starmer’s inner sanctum, will find the guns opening up on him from day one of the campaign, his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein likely to be front and centre. And it gets worse.

Remember the pack of lies pushed by the Mail titles about deputy leader Angela Rayner? The claim that she flashed the Tory front bench at PMQs? And the claim that she and Starmer had broken the Covid laws, which was also untrue? All that will be dug up and put out there. Ed Miliband is still a front bench figure. They got away with kicking him last time, and will do again.

The press will howl “Anti-Semitism” while recycling the anti-Semitic smear of Miliband’s late father. Labour won’t lift a finger, so desperate is the party to play nice with the press. Which will get them nowhere, because there is no such thing as playing nice when it comes to the press. The Murdoch and Rothermere press will kick Starmer and his pals black and blue.

Some of the dirt to be thrown at Labour, and plenty already stored up ready for the off, is likely to be the product of unlawful information gathering. But if Labour is to take such a relaxed approach to such mere details, who is going to prosecute the perpetrators? By the time anything happens, the circus will have moved on - even if Labour won. The press would rather they didn’t.

The Red Team now has a sticker on its back. It says KICK ME, PRESS PEOPLE. Unwise doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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Tuesday 14 May 2024

France Has A New Fash Hero

The Right Wing Excuse Me Site otherwise known as UnHerd has ponied up another fash hopeful, this time from France. Cole Strangler (crazy name, crazy guy?!?!?) tells “Can Jordan Bardella seduce France?” followed by the claim “He is detoxifying the Le Pen brand”, which is interesting, as Bardella’s domestic partner is the grand-daughter of, er, Jean-Marie le Pen.

Jordan Bardella, the new fash ...

But let’s hear more of the excuse note. “The MEP and head of the party’s ticket for June’s elections to European Parliament is young and handsome. He hails from an emphatically non-elite background. And most important, perhaps, his surname isn’t Le Pen”. “Non-elite”, in this case, meaning he attended Paris-Sorbonne University, but failed to graduate.

But do go on. “Gone are the references to Frexit or leaving the eurozone. Such promises have been replaced by a string of grievances over the EU’s agricultural and energy policies, framed in terms of restoring French sovereignty”. Like André Ventura in Portugal, who has made leaving the EU subject to so many conditions that he wouldn’t do it, even if he got to power.

There is more: “the credo that unites the delicate cross-class coalition … is a deep hostility to immigration … Invoking the old-time religion, Bardella fired out a list of ills supposedly caused by foreigners: crime, Islamism, terrorism, declining public services and the loss of French identity … ‘This election will also be a great referendum on mass immigration’”. It’s the Forrins’ fault!

What helps Bardella is the rightward lurch of the media. “This is partly thanks to ultra-conservative billionaire Vincent Bolloré who, since 2016, has acquired prominent media outlets and transformed them into vehicles for Right-wing commentary: radio station Europe 1, newspaper Journal du Dimanche, and most famously, TV channel CNews, often likened to Fox News”. Go on.

The network’s most famous pundit, Éric Zemmour, went on to run for president in 2022 and now heads a party even further to the Right of the RN: Reconquête, which polls at around 5% for the European elections and boasts Marine Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, at the head of its ticket. Compared with figures like these, the RN can come across as somewhat moderate”. Yes, the increasingly alt-right Spectator likes Bardella too.

... not unconnected with the older fash

Despite him saying “he didn’t like the term ‘Great Replacement’ … but nonetheless ‘it points to a reality that’s correct’”. And, oh look, “In 2021, he posted statements of support for Génération Identitaire, a far-right organization that had been dissolved by the French government

Any hate crime in the CV? “After Ali Rabeh, a Muslim, was re-elected as mayor of Trappes in 2021, Bardella described the city as an ‘Islamic republic’ on the radio station Europe 1. He then announced on 2 February 2022, that he was indicted for this statement, saying ‘I am disappointed that the French justice system pursues the same goal today as the Islamists, to silence those who denounce real issues and those who oppose the transformation of countless neighbourhoods in France’”. Europe 1? See above.

But Bardella’s party is, meanwhile, trying to clean up its image in other ways. “Ever sensitive of their image, RN leaders have tossed to the wayside an impressive number of former idols and allies: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are no longer celebrated for obvious reasons”.

Which may look like A Very Good Thing, but this is all with a singular purpose: to achieve power. As with criticism of Germany’s own chapter of the fash, AfD, because the latter is claimed to be too close to Moscow. This enables the RN (the new and cleaner FN, honestly) to appeal to more voters.

But the fash is still the fash, whether it’s the RN, Reform UK, AfD, Vox in Spain, or Chega in Portugal. It claims to be mainstream, in touch with the public mood, listening to the concerns of those that other politicians have allegedly ignored. It arrives as your friend. But in reality, it has no more idea of how to improve the electorate’s lot than anyone else.

So why the media interest? You may ask that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

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Sunday 12 May 2024

Buckland Elphicke Attack BACKFIRES

As if seasoned media watchers needed reminding, the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press shills shamelessly for the Tory Party - no matter how corrupt, inept or dysfunctional it gets - while failing to do its homework, so desperate is it to take its readers for mugs. Today has brought an excellent example from both the Murdoch and Rothermere empires.

Natalie Elphicke has crossed the aisle and joined Labour. Therefore she has become disloyal to the cause, a turncoat. As such, all the dirt the press has accumulated on her can now be dished. This analysis is not supporting her - her views are particularly distasteful - but her attackers are lower still. Worse, they and their main source have missed something rather important.

Still, let’s consider the press offerings, however lame they are. The Sunday Times claims “Elphicke ‘asked lord chancellor for favour over husband’s trial’ … Defector MP wanted case moved to lessen publicity”. Looks like those all-important quotation marks are doing some rather heavy lifting there.

Over at the Mail on Sunday, we get “As Starmer faces backlash over Natalie Elphicke’s defection, another bombshell … TURNCOAT MP ASKED MINISTER TO PULL STRINGS FOR HUSBAND’S SEX ABUSE TRIAL”. TURNCOAT! TRAITAH!! Telling readers what to think once more, and remember, the Mail titles were the ones that refused to be persuaded of New Labour’s case back in 1997. They were Tory then, and will be next time.

So, predictably, we also get “The claims are likely to prove embarrassing for Sir Keir, a former Director of Public Prosecutions”. What the merry fuck has his time as DPP got to do with it? Over to the BBC: “Natalie Elphicke, the new Labour MP for Dover, has been accused of lobbying ministers over her then-husband Charlie's sexual assault case”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?

Ms Elphicke is accused of asking Sir Robert Buckland, the then Justice Secretary, to help move the date of the case, apparently to avoid publicity. A spokesman for Ms Elphicke, who defected from the Conservatives last week, said the claims were ‘nonsense’". And then the $64,000 question. “Labour questioned why they were not raised earlier”. I’ll bet they did.

Let’s have a little more detail on that question. “A Labour Party spokesman had said: ‘Natalie Elphicke totally rejects that characterisation of the meeting … If Robert Buckland had any genuine concerns about the meeting, then he should have raised them at the time, rather than making claims to the newspapers now Natalie has chosen to join the Labour Party”. Quite.

Darren Guy was one of those not persuaded by the timing of this allegedly exclusive piece of allegedly investigative journalism. “Its amazing how the tory press ignored her while she was sitting on the ‘correct’ bench but turned on her the minute she was sitting on the ‘wrong’ bench. Makes you wonder what else they have on current tory MPs but are keeping quiet about it”.

Liz Gerard musedBuckland and the Tories now have questions to answer. He may have acted properly, but they shielded her”, and John Crace was on the same page: “Curious that Robert Buckland didn’t remember Natalie Elphicke had lobbied him over her husband’s court case when she was still a Tory MP”. LBC host James O’Brien was yet more unimpressed.

This is an incredible illustration of how completely bent the Tories are & how completely commonplace it is now. Here, they’re saying, is a ‘scandal’ we have kept secret for four years - please use it to attack Labour, who knew absolutely nothing about it”. The potential blowback for Buckland is worse.

If Ms Elphicke has broken the law, he has potentially broken it too - for covering up her alleged misbehaviour. And with the Tories 30 points behind Labour in the opinion polls to add to a shockingly bad series of local and Mayoral election results (plus another of those Parliamentary by-election upsets), all that an already weary electorate is going to see is yet more Tory Sleaze. The same thing that did for John Major all those years ago.

Crap politics, meet crap journalism. The electorate has stopped listening.

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