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Friday, 3 July 2020

Brexit Talks - Bozo Team Sent Home Early

There were face to face talks in Brussels this week between the UK delegation, led by chief negotiator David Frost, and the EU team fronted as usual by Michel Barnier. And that is about all that some observers can agree on: as so often, the agenda of those reporting dictates how the story is framed. What is in no doubt, however, is that the talks ended not today, as might have been expected, but yesterday.
Hello, good evening, and Oh Shit

As might be expected, the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, said the Rotten Foreigners Done It: “Remainer campaigners PANIC as Brexit talks end a day early with serious divergences … BREXIT talks finished a day early and even the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barner [sic] has been criticised by pro-EU group, Best for Britain as the two sides failed to make progress”. They criticised both teams, but hey ho.

The Independent, though, saw things differently. “Brexit trade talks in Brussels have ended a day early as David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, warned that ‘significant differences’ remain between the two sides … by Thursday lunchtime, officials said they had got as far as they could this week, despite the planned schedule including sessions later in the day and a further meeting on Friday”. And the Irish Times gave a hint of what really happened.
Here all day. Up to a point

The abrupt end of the latest round of talks between Britain and the European Union a day earlier than planned was not only surprising but perplexing … the language on both sides was restrained and Frost’s had none of the belligerence that often characterises his rhetoric towards Brussels”. Then came a most revealing passage.

Before this week’s talks began, the EU told Britain it was ready to compromise in order to accommodate the red lines Boris Johnson identified … The Europeans hoped that Britain would respond with a step towards compromise of its own but by the time the talks ended on Thursday, Frost had produced no such offer. During the course of the week, it became clear that unless Britain makes a substantial move within days, there will be no significant progress this month”. We wanted compromise. It was offered. We failed to reciprocate.
It was on Frost and his team to make a move. A move was not forthcoming. So there was no point in continuing - until a move was forthcoming. The talk of Frost being “restrained” is key. That tells you what really happened: he wasn’t prepared to do what he claims the EU won’t do - compromise - so the EU side ended the talks round.

As Jason Hunter put it, “Looks like the UK 'negotiating' team were kicked out of Brussels for being time wasters. Who woulda thunk that after Boris said he was gonna ‘put a tiger in the tank’ for these talks!”. Our side, it seems, flunked the job interview and were sent home early. Carrying on would have been no more than a waste of time.
That is the level to which the UK delegation has sunk. So it’s going to come down to a situation not unlike that of the Japanese deal, where the other side draws up the deal, gives us six weeks’ notice, and tells us to sign, or else.

Most people would call that abject humiliation. But remember, we’re taking back control.
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Darren Grimes Repents At Leisure

Floor-crossing pundit Darren Grimes likes to complain that people unfairly call him stupid. On the basis of his car crash interview with appalling old bigot David Starkey, they would be right so to do. Only after Starkey’s claim “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there? An awful lot of them survived” had been published by his Reasoned UK site did Grimes see the problem.
Worse for Grimes, enough time had elapsed between publication and his moment of revelation for anyone and everyone who wished to pass severely adverse comment on his interview to have done so. The damage had been done, both to his and Starkey’s media careers. So he did what he knows best, and played the victim.
Hand on heart, I wasn’t engaged enough in this interview as I should’ve been. It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words … I am very new to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee and I should have robustly questioned Dr Starkey about his comments”. Then came the lame excuse.
However, whether it’s on the BBC, ITV, Sky News or on YouTube, no interviewer is responsible for the views expressed by their guests”. Yeah, right. Grimes could, and should, have cut Starkey’s comments and perhaps given him the opportunity to, shall we say, use a slightly different form of words in their place. He didn’t. He loused up.
And then he loused up some more, as he explained “I’ve been asked to clarify why I described Dr Starkey as a ‘hero’, well … It was an interview that was over an hour. My hero comment was more a reflection on how much I’d appreciated his history programmes growing up, which did a lot for me as a kid in a really crap state school with precious little in the way of history”. His problem was that his characterisation was not true.
James Wilson broke the news to him. “You are just making stuff up [Darren Grimes]? While you were at Tanfield School, OFSTED rated it as good? And the curriculum was rated excellent [Citation]?” Michael Dunn added “I went to the same school, same teachers, I’ve made a career out of my history education, have a degree in history and work in a museum with a collection of national significance, he’s lying again”.
Meanwhile, the fallout for Starkey continues. Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge is to “review” his honorary fellowship next week. As LBC has reported, he “has resigned from his position at The Mary Rose Museum, which said it was ‘appalled’ by his comments on slavery". And TV historian Dan Snow has told that his channel “History Hit has never made any original content with Starkey. He does appear on one documentary which we licensed from a third party, this has now been taken down”.
This cautionary tale of modern media was summed up by Miffy Buckley: “The fact that such a frankly stupid and out-of-his-depth ninny like Darren Grimes can segue from failed trainee hairdresser to pundit on prime time Sky News programming must surely tell us something about the state of our media, and of our political & civil discourse”.

Broadcasters keep inviting them on their shows, and they keep showing the world the true extent of their expertise - or lack of it. Grimes and Starkey should not be the only ones repenting at leisure this morning. Hello all you gullible media bookers.
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Cummings Thinks He Knows What He’s Doing

Amid all the criticism of falling journalistic standards, as an increasing number of supposedly reputable hacks resort to taking dictation from a variety of “Downing Street sources” (some of them “senior”), has emerged a silver lining in the gathering gloom, and that is the sure and certain knowledge that we now know those sources’ limitations.
Because journalists desperate to hang on to their “sources” are so frightened of upsetting them, and so cutting off the flow of juicy morsels to feed readers and viewers, what they tell us is not the result of the source being interrogated. There is no to and fro, no probing questions are asked. All we read and hear is the product of stenography.
James Forsyth

It is with this in mind that one should approach this comment by James Forsyth of the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, which teases his latest article: “The paradox at the heart of Boris Johnson’s political project is that [it] is clear-eyed, brutal even, about the failings of government but it is also pinning its hopes on government to solve this country’s economic problems”. Not everyone reading that was cheering.
And not anywhere near cheering was Jonathan Portes, who is a Professor of Economics, and so might be expected to understand a little about the former “Dismal Science”. His response was to ask “Where to start with this stuff? ‘Not even wrong’ doesn't even begin to cover it”. Forsyth had been talking about data and modelling. Here’s what he said.
The new emphasis on data must properly distinguish between data and modelling. Data has real analytical value - it enables robust discussion of what has worked and what has not. Modelling is a far less exact science. In this crisis, as in the 2008 financial crisis, models have been more of a hindrance than a help”. And in his lunch break, Forsyth’s source will be considering the latest exhibition at The Pretentious Gallery.
Meanwhile, Portes put his response directly. “This article really does tell you a *lot* about the structural failures of the British state. Just not what [James Forsyth] thinks it does”. And on Forsyth’s next revelation, the much-trumpeted reshaping of Government, “For Whitehall insiders, this will be the funniest bit. The government's radical reshaping of the centre of government will be - to restore the O'Donnell/Heywood model of 2008-11 or so”.
Added to that is the mildly paranoid assumption of Forsyth’s source that, although there is no demand for Mark Sedwill’s successor to be a Brexiteer, almost all 40 of the Permanent Secretaries voted Remain. Were they lined up and interrogated? That, though, is not the most worrying aspect of Forsyth’s inadvertent giveaway.
Two further items encapsulate that. First, Portes was asked what Forsyth’s article meant. His response was “apart from fact that Forsyth, and the people he spoke to, don't know anything about the use of data/analysis? Search me”. And most damning, Peter Oborne, who knows about the current lack of proper interrogation of sources, read another of Forsyth’s teasers and mused “Dominic Cummings' stenographer hard at work today”.
You read that right: the Polecat is so confident of his own abilities that he has dictated the whole pretentious shebang to James Forsyth, only to reveal his serious shortcomings.

Cummings thinks he knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t. Also, he isn’t listening.
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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Darren Grimes Fronts A Racist Endeavour

After Reasoned UK, the latest vehicle for Darren Grimes, the world’s most inept form-filler, passed before the inspection of Private Eye magazine, his Fifteen Minutes was well and truly up. From here there could be only one direction of travel, and that direction would be downhill all the way. This was confirmed today when it emerged that Grimes had nodded along while one of his interviewees indulged in a shocking display of racist bigotry.
The Eye had revealed thatthe small print of Reasoned’s privacy policy reveals that Grimes’s ‘online grassroots organisation’ is run by a Borehamwood-based company called Media and Activism. This turns out to be the same company behind conservative ‘youth’ group Turning Point UK (Eyes passim)”. TPUK is the UK offshoot of a US original fronted by Charlie Kirk, against whom there have been several accusations of racism.
I em not a racialist but, und zis is a big but ...

So, to keep it in the family, Grimes decided to give a platform to David Starkey. And no-one does Miserable Bastard™ quite like Starkey. Nor does anyone else veer across the racism line with such lack of aplomb. The car crash, when it came, was full value for money.
The chosen subject was slavery. Was it genocide? Starkey, as so often, was not stuck for a bon mot. “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there? An awful lot of them survived”. The only surprise here is that he does not round off his argument by claiming that they breed like rabbits.
Having sounded like a 1980s apologist for Apartheid South Africa, but without the accent, Starkey then proceeds to whitewash the British Empire. “The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say quite simply that it is the first key stage of world globalisation. It’s probably the most important moment in human history, and it’s still with us”. Well, he is, anyway.
Its consequences are still on … and in most ways, actually fruitful”. Not sure what the reaction to that would be in many of those countries that were given the benefit of this less than benign phenomenon, along with the brutal militarisation, enforced famines, and free trade that was only free if it suited the colonial power.
But worse than Starkey’s shameless racism is that Grimes can be seen apparently agreeing with him. Small wonder that there is already a meme doing the rounds which has Dazza nodding along with an excerpt from one of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi rally rants. Grimes has heard his interviewee come out with the most appalling racism - the kind that might have even troubled Nick Griffin or Bernard Manning - and has still published the video.
From here there should be no way back for either Starkey or Grimes, although Brendan O’Neill will no doubt be along soon to excuse the whole affair, blaming any criticism on “leftists”, “wokeism”, or some other excuse that allows him to pretend to understand George Orwell. Darren Grimes is fronting a racist endeavour.

Will broadcasters now think better of inviting Dazza on? Don’t hold your breath.
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Do As Bozo Says, Not As His Dad Does

Of all the false premises under which Brexit was sold, none was more jaw-droppingly dishonest than the idea that it was to put one over on the elites, those high-ups who wanted Good Honest Hardworking People to do as they said, not as they did. If we voted to leave, we would put a stop to that sort of thing. We would take back control!
Then came the Coronavirus pandemic. And following on close behind was the realisation that the unaccountable elites were, in fact, those who had urged us to back Brexit. The electorate had been had for mugs. Even the Daily Mail is now calling out these charlatans, the latest of whom is one Stanley Johnson. Yes, the same one who is the father of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Bozo Père bust the lockdown to go to his second home in south-west England. But this was not sufficiently rubbing the proletariat’s nose in the crap: he had a suitably upmarket villa in Greece, wished to personally supervise work on it so he could rent it out and score More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now, and so he has travelled to that country in flagrant defiance of his own son’s urging against non-essential travel.
Worse is that Stan has been splashed all over the pages of the Mail, thereby alienating yet more Brits, and ensuring that whenever Bozo and his pals urge adherence to the lockdown, the response will be defiance, citing not only the shamelessness of chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, but also the PM’s own father.

And although the Mail does not, for once, tell readers how much Stan’s villa is worth, it does reveal “The four-bed villa in Pelion has a pool and terraces with views of the mountains and the sea. The beach is only a five-minute walk through an olive grove”. Bozo Père claims he needs to “Covid Proof” the place. Bullshit. He’s gone on holiday.
Many were unimpressed, not least the Tweeter known as the Spiller Of Tea: “Sure the people of Leicester will be very inclined indeed to refrain from nipping over the border for a cheeky Bacardi Breezer knowing that Stanley Johnson has effortlessly outcunted Dominic Cummings by breaking at least two separate countries’ coronavirus rules in a single trip”. Enforcing the Leicester lockdown with pubs opening elsewhere? Not a chance.

He also pointed out the problem here. “Boris Johnson: ‘The problem is not with the rules, it’s with people not understanding the rules’ … Stanley Johnson: *understands the rules so poorly that he books a separate flight through Bulgaria to circumvent the rules he hasn’t understood*”. Bozo Père spells it out: find a way round any ban, and just carry on as normal. The elites once more laughing at the little people.
And talking of the Daily Mail, it was not long before another representative of the elites was along to praise Stan for his actions. Yes, Sarah “Vain” Vine (aka Mrs Michael “Oiky” Gove) took one look at her own paper’s article and gushed “I love Stanley”.

There is an elite that has taken ordinary people for granted. The problem for those people is that, in voting for Brexit, they changed nothing. Because they voted against an elite that was not there - on the say-so of the real elite who have taken them for mugs.

Nothing’s going to stop Stanley Johnson’s free movement. Now who’s taking back control?
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Defund The BBC - Grifting Alert

When James Yucel, ostensibly a mere undergraduate, founded Defund The BBC, ostensibly a grassroots campaign against the licence fee, rapidly amassing more than 56,000 Twitter followers and scoring coverage in press and on radio, eyebrows were raised. Was this really a one-man band, set up from Yucel’s bedroom in Ipswich? The conclusion here on Zelo Street was that there must be a greater presence behind it.
James Yucel - not a solo effort

It was stretching the bounds of credibility that Yucel was coincidentally using the same argument as the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog (that the Corporation did not always reveal every political affiliation of its talking heads), that he was then endorsed by Laurence Fox, featured in the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, and given airtime on Murdoch-owned TalkRADIO.

At the time, I noted that “The campaign has also featured on the website of Free Market Conservatives”. And as the latest edition of Private Eye magazine (#1525, available at all good news outlets) has revealed, this is the link that shows Defund The BBC is not just about a student starting a campaign from his bedroom in Ipswich.

As the Eye tells, “documents at Companies House show [Yucel] isn’t a director of the company set up to continue the campaign and gather donations. The sole director and shareholder of of the newly incorporated Defund The BBC Ltd is Rebecca Ryan, a Brexiteer campaigner who founded the StandUp4Brexit campaign with former Vote Leave head of development Helen Mayer”. There is more.
Rebecca Ryan - a presence not to be sniffed at

Ryan is also the founder of Free Market Conservatives, a blog which has recently published articles by both Yucel (promoting Defund The BBC, natch) and [Tom] Hunt, who lambasted the BBC for removing Little Britain from iPlayer. Hunt later repeated his points in the Commons - though only after deleting his defence of David Walliams’ use of ‘copious amounts [of] skin-darkening make-up’”.

Tom Hunt is not only Yucel’s MP, he also employs him as an intern. But the main point made by the Eye is the potential for some serious grifting on the back of this supposedly grassroots campaign. “As with any grifting ‘grassroots’ campaign, Defund The BBC is touting for donations,” they note. “These will supposedly help it lobby the Government to decriminalise licence fee dodging and reduce the scope of the BBC’s Royal charter”.

So what’s the problem? “Backers beware: [Ms] Ryan’s last campaign with StandUp4Brexit was the widely publicised ‘Big Ben Must Bong For Brexit’. She raised no less than £272,000, but Big Ben did not bong”. That’s a serious amount of money. What happened to it? Was it all returned to the donors? If not, why not, and where is it now?

Moreover, given who is behind the Defund The BBC campaign, Yucel’s claim that he started it “on a whim” merely raises more of those eyebrows. Those considering bunging Yucel’s efforts the odd Monkey, or even Bag of Sand, might be best advised reconsidering.

Defund The BBC shows that one trusted maxim remains true: grifters gonna grift.
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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

John Ware SUING Paddy French

As Zelo Street regulars may recall, following last year’s extended edition of the BBC’s Panorama strand, called “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” and fronted by John Ware, trenchant comment was passed on the broadcast by independent journalist Paddy French of Press Gang fame. Ware was sufficiently distressed at the comment passed that he consulted his lawyer, who just happens to be another name familiar to those who read this blog.
John Ware

Mark Lewis, who has also been instructed recently by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley and minor thesp Tracy Ann Oberman, has taken up the cudgels on Ware’s behalf. He made a significant part of his reputation during the phone hacking scandal, but parted company with campaigning group Hacked Off in circumstances that remain unclear.

What is clear, though, is that when HO launched a fundraising drive recently, Lewis sniped “Don’t bother giving. They do not care about people affected by the press, just about themselves. They use genuine victims”. He made his comment at the time that HO was helping beautician Danielle Hindley gain redress against the Mail on Sunday.
Still, what’s a provably untrue comment between former friends, eh? Back at the Panorama programme and Ware’s threat of legal action, the timeline makes for interesting reading: French published his investigation into Panorama on December 7 last year. It took until April this year for the first threat of legal action to be made. And it has taken another two months for Lewis, on behalf of Ware, to proceed with the threatened action.

That is despite Lewis indicating that he would respond to French’s lawyers before the end of April. So what is Ware after? Quite apart from a full retraction of the Press Gang investigation, an apology, a statement to be read out in open court, and reimbursement of his costs, Ware is now demanding a cool £50,000 in damages.
Lawyer Mark Lewis ...

French has instructed Tamsin Allen of Bindmans, a name with which Zelo Street regulars will be familiar, who has told Lewis that her client “has ‘complete defences’ under section 2 (Truth), section 3 (Honest Opinion) and section 4 (Public Interest) of the Defamation Act 2013”. Her conclusions show why there may be surprise at Ware pressing his action.

The defamatory allegations against your client are matters of opinion, based on the facts set out in the … report … In the event that your client commences legal proceedings then the matter will be vigorously defended”. So why is Ware going ahead?
... and his fraternal greeting to former friends

Given that he has agreed a “no win, no fee” deal with Lewis, and has taken out insurance in case he loses the action, it is unlikely that the BBC is a party to his action. Ware is now believed to be a freelance, which would also mean the Beeb was unlikely to be involved.

Does John Ware consider presenting facts and then commenting on them to be defamatory of him? Seeing lawyers trying to stand that one up would be fascinating. But what is not up for debate is that Paddy French will need more contributions to his crowdfunder (see HERE). And that his defence continues to gather evidence.

One thing is for certain: Paddy French has not been silenced. Good for him.
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Nadine Dorries And A Covid Data Farce

Labour MP Justin Madders, who represents Ellesmere Port and Neston, has plenty on his plate right now: the uncertain future of the Vauxhall plant, the possibility that some of his constituents who work over the border at Broughton’s Airbus operation may be some of the 1,700 in the UK to lose their jobs, and the possibility of more Coronavirus flare-ups on his patch with following relaxing of lockdown rules, and more.
So he really didn’t need the distraction of reading the shocking feedback to a written question put to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care back in mid-May. The request to Matt Hancock and his team was “To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the contract with Deloitte for Covid-19 testing requires that company to report positive cases to Public Health England and to local authorities”.
The reply came from (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, and yes, it must be remembered that she is now a minister. “As an existing professional service provider to the public sector, Deloitte’s expertise is being used to supplement in-house resource to deliver significant programmes of work, which currently includes the national response to COVID-19”. The driving it round the houses tells you bad news is on its way.
How bad was it? “The contract with Deloitte does not require the company to report positive cases to Public Health England and local authorities”. That bad. The question has to be asked as to what the point of the testing is in the first place.
Maybe there was a Data Protection excuse coming down the track? But Madders had seen enough. “The idea that Data Protection is stopping testing information going to councils is for the birds - this is the real reason, they didn’t put it in the contracts in the first place!” Ms Dorries didn’t write the contract, but one might think she would realise what she just let slip. There’s nothing on her Twitter feed today about it.
Plenty of other observers had something to say, though, such as John Harris of the Guardian: “This is such a shambles, with huge consequences”. Steve Peers of the University of Essex added “Data protection law excuses are BS - health data can be processed if necessary for public health purposes”. And in this case should have been.
David Bailey of Birmingham Business School had seen this before. “Another case of an outsourcing firm running rings round the public sector in contract design and specification. How many times have we been here?” And Anthony Costello of UCL concluded “Not just a shambles...but public health malpractice. This decision threatens the safety and lives of populations all over the country”. Yet another Tory shambles.
Only this shambles has potentially deadly consequences. Directly deadly consequences. The reopening of the economy consists of, effectively, flying blind if those making the decisions do not have sight of the relevant data. With all the consequences that implies.

Heads should roll over this foul-up. Sadly, though, this Government doesn’t do resigning.
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