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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Mirror Faces Hacking Music

While the Murdoch goons are trying to put out an increasing number of fires threatening to engulf the Sky Bid - Sun and Screws hacking, Sun illegal blagging, and the improper behaviour alleged at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) for starters - matters today the High Court in London have reminded anyone wanting to know that use of The Dark Arts also extended to the Mirror titles.
And the problem for the latter group is that they don’t have the deep pockets possessed by the Murdoch mafiosi, despite today’s litany of cases including settlements which in many cases have been for six-figure sums, or as far too many of the Pundit Establishment call them nowadays, “an average sort of annual salary”. That means the millions are steadily adding up, especially when the legal fees are included.

The roll call of names is as impressive as it is diverse: Todd Carty (actor), Charles Clarke (politician), Michelle Collins, Kevin Keegan, Grant Stott (John Leslie’s brother), Lexia Stott (their mother), Jo Wood (Ronnie’s ex), Mary Archer, Jeffrey Archer, Patsy Kensit, Lee Sharpe, Jim Moir aka Vic Reeves, and many more, including the usual complement of EastEnders and Coronation Street actors, plus agents and producers.

There was also Denise van Outen (also blagged), Lawrence and Jackie Llewellyn-Bowen, Jamie Theakston, Gillian Taylforth, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Mel Stein (football agent whose roster of clients included Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne), Sheryl Gascoigne (Gazza’s ex), Cara Tointon, and campaigner Brooke Kinsella. All had their phones hacked.

Also, it was not just about phone hacking: John Thompson’s former wife Samantha was targeted by Private Investigators, as was Jim Moir - and his wife, who was also the target of illegal blagging. More than three dozen cases have been settled today. Some of the hacks who were involved have been named. But, as with so often when it comes to the less than totally legal stuff, one group of people are missing.

Who might that be? Ah well. The ones who so rarely get it in the neck - former Screws editor Andy Coulson excepted - are the ones at the top of the tree: the board members, their editors, and those with whom they share the Top Jobs. As so many of these people are invariably sensitive souls, Zelo Street will for the time being not drop any names, although anyone who wants to know will know who was doing what, and when.

Add to this the recent Byline Media investigation that has uncovered use of illegally blagged information by the Sun, and also all the Mail titles (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard, when it was part of the same group), and the impression is given that there may be rather more in the way of The Dark Arts to be revealed. How does the press find out so much about you? Now, it seems, we know.

When the Screws got rumbled and was closed, it was thought that what it got up to was merely the tip of a very large iceberg. That thought was right. More later.

Sun Corbyn Nuke Whoppers BUSTED

The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun know their orders for the upcoming General Election: they are to instruct the kinds of people who would suffer gravely from a Tory landslide and a “hard Brexit” to vote for, er, a Tory landslide and a “hard Brexit”. One way to persuade those voters is to frighten them into believing that everyone with nuclear weapons is about to bomb the UK.
Allied to this is the assertion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is such a complete peacenick that if he were Prime Minister, he would just stand there and watch it happen. It’s the same tired old Sun line from 1983, 1987 and 1992 churned over for the generation that is fortunate not to have had to read the paper during the editorship of the deeply unpleasant Kelvin McFilth. But there is a problem here.

All you Zelo Street regulars will know that while I have been critical of Jezza during his time as Labour leader, that does not excuse the use of falsehood and misinformation to pretend his position is something it is not. So when today’s Sun editorial appeared, screaming “There’s no denying that Jeremy Corbyn has made Labour an anti-nuke party which would leave Britain defenceless”, a little comment was in order.

Whoever wrote the piece got carried away: “Yesterday the party had to remind it's [sic] leader of their stance on Trident ... but despite claiming they'd renew the deterrent, Corbyn would never use it … LABOUR would leave Britain defenceless to a nuclear attack. They can spin it ­however they like … but under Jeremy Corbyn they are an anti-nuke party”.

Do go on. “The world knows that as Prime Minister, Corbyn - now officially endorsed by the Communists - would never press the button, even in retaliation … North Korea could level London and he would still bleat about a ‘political solution’, of the sort he seems to want negotiated with the savages of IS … As a lifelong peacenik, Corbyn can take no other position … But it confirms his total unsuitability to lead a major nation in a hostile world”.
As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. The orders have gone out, but whoever wrote this weapons grade drivel failed to engage brain first. North Korea “level London”? North Korea can’t get a test firing off the deck, and even if it could, London is well out of range. Plus perhaps the Murdoch goons would like to tell us how many of those nukes were fired at us in the really scary days of the 60s and 70s? That would be NONE.

And while we’re on the subject of what Jezza would do, this is what he told the host in last Sunday’s interview on The Andy Marr Show (tm). What should the commanders of our Trident submarines do? “Follow orders when given”. Would we use nukes? “I’ve made clear that there would be no first use of it”. No first use. Not “no use at all”, just the same policy that Prime Ministers all the way back to Clement Attlee adopted.

Yes, Jezza wants to have political solutions to conflicts around the globe. But so do all the other political parties - including the Tories.

As usual, the Sun has to peddle the editorial line handed down. It’s only a pity that the whoppers they tell about Corbyn are so obvious. No change there, then.

Tommy Robinson Calls

As many of you will know by now, the Zelo Street house had an unexpected - and unwanted - visitor last night. In fact, there were three visitors: former EDL head man Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon, plus two of his pals. Why Robinson should need to turn up on someone else’s doorstep in dead of night with two accomplices I will leave to others to draw their own conclusions.
Tommy Robinson

That Robinson’s appearance was designed to intimidate cannot be in any doubt: there was loud and persistent banging at the front door, high-intensity lights were shone into the front windows, and when I went to see what was kicking off - it wasn’t going to be an election canvasser or the Witnesses at 2200 hours - one of those high-intensity lights was shone into my face as Robinson introduced himself.
He wanted to ask me one question. He claimed I had “written lies about him”. He would come back, and keep coming back, until I answered him, which suggests someone has sufficient time and money on his hands to keep on making 300 mile round trips to Crewe on the off-chance of finding someone at home. After the front door was shut in his face, the hammering and shouting continued. And he kept calling me “Paul”.
Robinson might have thought this was a pretty clever tactic; it served only as a giveaway as to the identity of the so-called “Journalist” who supplied him with my address. In the circumstances, it was necessary to call the Police out, and they duly arrived. Robinson was given information as to what would happen if he persisted with his visits; the officer attending was well aware of Robinson’s illustrious past.
After the Police told Robinson and his fellow thugs what would happen if they kept up their exhibition of harassment, they vanished into the night. All that remained was an undercurrent of leering, cat-calling and other low-level abuse in support of The Great Man on Twitter, many of his “supporters” wholeheartedly approving of his tactics.
A selection of these is included in this post, so readers can appreciate the amount of abuse and barrel-scraping on view: “Maybe it's happy hour at the gay bar … Open the door and talk to him like a man … His mum will answer in a minute Tommy … He will probably block us all or delete his account tomorrow … lets give him hell anyway … Was that it? Did he slink off to mum?” And there was more.
Yes, there was also “he probably still on the toilet still shitting himself haahaa … It says on his time line 'chill time' so I guess he is hiding behind the fridge … Have a damn good wash when you get home Tommy, that place looks like it needs fumigating dirty rank lefties”. Robinson himself continues to claim “His names [sic] actually paul”.

Tommy Robinson has also threatened to turn up again this evening. Meanwhile, all those august defenders of free speech in and around the media establishment have for some mysterious reason fallen silent. I’m sure they have their reasons.

Monday, 24 April 2017

UKIP’s Racist Integration Agenda

Following the appearance of UKIP’s comedy leader Paul Nuttall on The Andy Marr Show (tm) yesterday morning, we can now see the party’s “Integration Agenda” in all its glory. And the one inescapable conclusion is that this is a conflation of ignorance, bigotry, racism, Islamophobia and stupidity far beyond anything that the Kippers have so far managed. It is little more than the Nuremberg Laws under another name.
I keep pulling the f***in' trigger, but me keks keep on burnin'

Under the routinely fraudulent claimOur bold new integration agenda aims to bring communities together”, this is what Nuttall and his gang of frauds are proposing.

Pass a law against the wearing of face coverings in public places. Face coverings are a deliberate barrier to integration and, in many contexts, a security risk too. The time has come to outlaw them. People should show their face in a public place”.

Is UKIP proposing to abolish the motorcycle helmet law? Or is it suggesting that all those Muslim women who it is really targeting will be OK, providing they all buy scooters? Will this also apply to their pals in the EDL? And what about surgeons and other operating theatre staff? Those operating welding equipment? Beekeepers? Brides-to-be? Anyone wearing fancy dress, including perhaps Paul Nuttall Horror Masks?

Abolish postal voting on demand and return to a higher threshold of demonstrable need before a postal vote is granted. Postal votes on demand have led to a boom in electoral fraud and vote-stealing, especially among minority communities”.

Nigel “Thirsty” Farage making excuses for UKIP’s crap electoral performance by claiming that the ghastly brown people stitched his team up does not constitute evidence of electoral fraud. Get some proper evidence and stop lying.

Explicitly ban sharia - which is intended as a rival legal system and which undermines women’s rights - from being applied in the UK and establish a legal commission to draw up proposals to disband sharia courts”.

Where do we start? Sharia is not intended as a rival legal system. Sharia tribunals are perfectly legal, providing they are used as part of civil law - like the Jewish Beth Din. To target Sharia tribunals would be to effectively abolish freedom of religion and to improperly  disfavour one religion relative to others.

Implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas”.

UKIP are suddenly concerned about Female Genital Mutilation, so much so that they want to target just those brown people, and allow them to be invasively examined. Once again, this is disfavouring one group in relation to others. As well as being seriously creepy.
I said "my dog's got no nose"

Make failure to report an instance of FGM by someone who has knowledge that it has taken place a criminal offence itself. The CPS to operate under a presumption of prosecution of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM”.

And now the Kippers are demanding collective punishment. Real Nazi stuff.

In cases where the victims of grooming gangs are of a different racial or religious group than the offenders, the CPS should cite this as an aggravating feature of the offence when prosecuting, opening the way to a longer sentence”.

Who drew this up, the KKK? This is effectively saying that sexual abuse is worse when non-whites do it. It’s a Jim Crow throwback and it’s racism, pure and simple. What’s next on the exemption list, interracial marriage? Pass laws, anyone?

Immediate closure of schools where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught or imposed on children. A moratorium on new Islamic faith schools until substantial progress has been demonstrated in integrating Muslims into mainstream British society”.

More collective punishment, to the extent of harming children’s education.

CPS and police to be instructed to treat a so-called ‘honour’ dimension of any act of violence as an aggravating factor, leading to it being accorded a higher priority for investigation and prosecution and not a lower one”.

Once again, holding those of non-white ethnic groups to a different standard. Another plainly racist measure.

The only thing missing from this slice of brainless viciousness is the proposal to go the whole hog and force Muslims to wear a yellow crescent on their clothing when they leave the house. It’s that bad.

UKIP has in the past flirted with measures that had the whiff of racism about them. Now the equivocation has vanished, and out have come the jackboots. These are proposals to make brown people second class citizens of the UK.

The protestation that “Islam is not a race, and so it’s not racist” will not wash. This is so little different to the 1960s and 1970s use of the term “Paki” to abuse all brown people - not just those who had connections to Pakistan - as makes no difference.

Paul Nuttall and his fellow Kippers should hang their heads in shame, withdraw this deeply offensive set of proposals, and apologise to all concerned. But they are, in all likelihood, too congenitally stupid to do so. As I said, the Nuremberg laws under another name.

Murdoch Sky Bid Foxed AGAIN

While the Murdoch goons at the Baby Shard bunker concentrate their efforts on shamelessly backing the Tories in the General Election campaign, and try to take their minds off the continued rumblings of bad behaviour - which we now know includes not just phone hacking, but illegal blagging - the empire of Don Rupioni has been shaken once again by the kind of revelations that could derail the all-important Sky bid.
One hurdle that Rupert Murdoch, together with sone James and Lachlan, will have to surmount is the “Fit and proper person test”. The thought that James, who failed to distinguish himself during the phone hacking revelations, might not manage to clear that barrier has since receded. But the gathering sex assault and racism crises at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) look set to take out old Rupe.

FNC has had a torrid recent past. First came the sexual misconduct allegations against its founding head Roger Ailes, which led to his departure. Then came more sexual misconduct allegations against the network’s top-rated host Bill O’Reilly, and he, too, had to go. But those who thought the boil had been lanced were in for a rude awakening.
First came more sexual misconduct allegations: “Columnist, attorney, and former Fox News contributor Debbie Schlussel … accused Fox News Prime Time Host Sean Hannity of the same type of behavior that lead to Bill O’Reilly leaving the beleaguered network earlier this week … Schlussel claims that while at an appearance in Detroit which they both attended, Hannity invited her back to his hotel room … Schlussel says that after she turned down his advances, she was not invited back on his program”.

Hannity, an immodest professional loudmouth with much to be modest about, never matched Bill-O for ratings, but he is an established FNC host. And if he has been unable to deport himself in a grown-up and professional manner, one has to wonder how many more of the Fox roster have been abusing their positions at the network.

But yet more unpleasant revelations have been aired by Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine (it was Sherman who was on the money from the start with the O’Reilly story). “Next week, according to sources, seven black Fox News employees plan to join a racial-discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues” he tells, going on to assert that FNC’s then comptroller Judy Slater “demanded that black female employees hold ‘arm wrestling matches’ with white female employees in her office”. Oh dear.
Sean Hannity

As Sherman notes, “The new claims, if true, reveal not just the failures of the legal and HR departments to deal with problematic managers but also just how deep the culture of discrimination and harassment may have run during Ailes’s reign”. And just for good measure, an attorney representing the employees has told Sherman “There will be more complaints forthcoming in the next few days”.

The link-up between Media Matters for America and Avaaz will no doubt ensure this news reaches the relevant authorities in the UK. How will the Murdoch mafiosi manage to pass that “Fit and proper person test” with Fox News in meltdown, and all those hacking and blagging allegations still unresolved? There’s a $64,000 question for you.

Daily Mail - Back To The 30s

One might have thought that the last comparison that the current régime at the Daily Mail would want is with the paper’s infamous fawning over the far-right in the 1930s, led by then owner the first Viscount Rothermere. Then, the paper cheered not only for Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, but also the Nazis. Rothermere had a high regard for Adolf Hitler. His paper faithfully recorded the achievements of the Third Reich.
All that, of course, is no more: now the Mail would not dream of fawning over the far-right in Germany. Instead, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery are fawning over the far-right in France, desperately talking up the Presidential candidacy of Marine le Pen from the Front National as their last hope of seeing another EU member state follow Britain through the exit door. Hence today’s front page splash.

Le Pen’s Far Right in poll surge … Traditional parties wiped out … Now voters will have say on Frexit … NEW FRENCH REVOLUTION” screams the headline, written in all probability by Ron Hopeful. No mention that Ms le Pen’s poll ratings had been in decline for some weeks prior to the election. No mention that she did not win the first round poll. No mention that the second round favourite is a pro-EU, pro-Euro candidate.

Only in the small print to readers discover that the first round of voting - to decide who goes forward into the run-off in two weeks’ time - was won by Emmanuel Macron, a centrist who is now projected to win more than 60% of that vote and not only finish off the hopes of Marine le Pen, but also the hopes and dreams of Paul Dacre.

Why should this be? Ah well. The Mail has been searching, wishing and hoping ever since last year’s UK referendum on EU membership that another member state would follow us down the same path. The Vagina Monologue could then tell the paper’s readers that all those naysayers were wrong, that the EU really was bust, that the idea of sovereign nations exercising their freedom was a real thing, and not just Northcliffe House hot air.
But it’s all gone wrong since then: the Austrian Presidency, which the Mail told its readers would go to a far-right candidate, went instead to Alexander van der Bellen of the Greens. In any case, there would not have been a referendum on EU membership there, even if the far-right had won. So the Mail turned its attention to the Netherlands, and talked up the viciously racist Geert Wilders. There would, the paper claimed, be a Nexit next.

Wilders’ poll ratings faded before the vote. There was no Nexit. So now the Mail is left with France as its last hope (the German elections later this year are unlikely to see any significant advance for anti-EU parties). Hence Robert Hardman proclaimingMarine Le Pen was proclaimed last night as the country’s greatest heroine since Joan of Arc”, and a Mail Online puff piece titledHow Marine Le Pen turned her Holocaust-denying father's toxic National Front party into a mainstream election-winning force”.

This is no more than false hope and projection: Paul Dacre is so desperate not to be shown up as the purveyor of a false and misleading narrative that he is even prepared to return the Daily Mail to fawning support of the far-right. But Marine le Pen isn’t going to win, there isn’t going to be a Frexit, and the EU isn’t going to disintegrate.

Paul Dacre has sold his readers a pup. They may be unhappy when they find out.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Paul Nuttall - Brainless Bigot

With the EU referendum having given them a result of which they approve, the upcoming General Election gives the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP a problem: they can’t campaign for Britain to leave the EU, as this is already happening. So what can they do to get the attention of the voters? This has clearly taxed party leader Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”. And we now know his answer.
An' then I pulled the f***in' trigger, but it still didn't stop me bein' a total f***in' divvy

This is because Nuttall, with his early-Alexei-Sayle-meets-Pub-Landlord schtick, fetched up this morning on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to extol the virtues of casting a vote for the party of Himself Personally Now. His pitch was, not to drive it around the houses for too long, that there should be action taken against Scary Muslims (tm), because they were multiplying at a rate which caused him grave concern.

So Nuttall wanted to ban the burqa. Why was this? “We have a heightened security risk at  the moment and for CCTV to be effective you need to see people’s faces”. Very good, so would Sir like to repeal the motorcycle helmet law? Perhaps he’d like to ban his pals at the EDL from using all those face-coverings for which they are so notorious? But the UKIP leader did have another reason why he wanted to campaign against Muslims.

There’s the issue of integration. I don’t believe that you can integrate fully and enjoy the fruits of British society if you can’t see people’s faces. And, you know, look at some of the statistics. 58% of Muslim women are economically inactive”. Will banning the burqa, which the vast majority don’t wear, make them suddenly become economically active? Er, no.

And then came the first jaw-dropping howler: Nuttall said his party’s idea would make us good Europeans: “What happens in France for example is there’s a fine and what we’re doing is we’ll come in line with other European countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, there’s a ban for example in the City of Barcelona, some places in Italy and indeed Angela  Merkel’s talking about this in Germany at the moment”.

Yes, the leader of UKIP, the most anti-EU party in the UK, is arguing for the UK to follow what other EU member states are allegedly doing, as a time when we’re leaving the EU. Also, UKIP claims to be a libertarian party, as Marr pointed out.

Then came the other howler, as Nuttall argued for the end of Sharia tribunals. Why do this? “Because I don’t believe that we should have a [parallel] legal system in this country” was Nuttall’s answer. But there is no parallel legal system in this country. Civil disputes can be addressed by employing lawyers, but can also be resolved through mediation, which is where Sharia tribunals, and the Jewish Beth Din, come in.

And would Nuttall also abolish the Beth Din, then? Er, no he wouldn’t, because “The Jewish population in Britain, orthodox Jewish population is falling. It’s about a quarter of a million now. The issue surrounding Sharia is that the Muslim population is doubling decade on decade. It’s three million now, it’ll be six million soon”. Yes, someone claiming to be a serious politician says they breed like rabbits, so we have to take action against them.

Paul Nuttall is a desperate, barrel-scraping bigot, abandoning any semblance of libertarianism so he and his pals can go on an Islamophobia bender. No thanks.

Murdoch Goon Joins Tories

The exodus from Theresa May’s office has continued - not that most of the press seems too fussed about that - and there are now vacancies elsewhere in the Tory machinery, so once more, the revolving door between the right-leaning media and our Government has been pressed into action. The result is that yet another taker of the Murdoch shilling has passed through that door to become a Special Advisor (SpAd).
Behold another fine specimen of lobby group idiocy

Who is the latest lucky recipient of publicly funded largesse? Step forward the singularly moronic Dylan Sharpe, who had been spokesman for the Sun newspaper, and before that a spinner for campaigns like NO To AV and the Countryside Alliance. Sharpe is another of those right-wingers who pass effortlessly between the Astroturf lobby groups, PR agencies, campaign groups, media outlets and yes, political parties.
They are as in touch with the real world as all the other overpaid hacks, policy wonks, lobbyists and spinners with whom they mix in another of those closed worlds where the little people are not admitted, the kind of places where they really believe that those trousering annual incomes of £70,000 or more are not so well off.
But one thing appears to have concerned Sharpe, and that is his Twitter back catalogue, which he has ruthlessly purged. And that is a pity, because it was a thing of unexpected joy, a reminder of just how long on mouth artistry and short on applied intellect so many of this bottom-feeding class of hangers-on really is under all the gloss.
It was Sharpe who mishandled the Sun’s last use of the “Page 3” topless model. The Murdoch goons claimed to have had a “mammary lapse” (laugh? I thought I’d never start) and Sharpe then sent the unsolicited topless photo to the likes of Lucy Manning, Kay Burley and Harriet Harman. This was stupidity on the grandest of scales. But Sharpe then wanted everyone to know he had been the victim (of his own stupidity, no doubt).
Sharpe made a prize tit of himself again two months after his Page 3 gaffe - all there on Twitter, too. But this was as nothing to his attempt in May 2015 to compare a photo of a woman whose baby had been pulled alive from the rubble of the Nepal earthquake to then Labour leader Mil The Younger. It should have been a career-ending gaffe. But the kinds of rules applying to the little people are not enforced in the Baby Shard bunker.
So Sharpe was still in post in December 2015 when yet another gaffe saw him propose press censorship - but only of papers that had not signed up to sham press regulator IPSO. Foul-ups like those may be the reason that he has wiped so much of his Twitter output - but fear not, here on Zelo Street, all has been preserved so that anyone who wants to know can see what a prize plonker the Tories’ latest SpAd is.
And looking at the level of idiocy on view, anyone might get the impression that the bar has been set at a rather low level when it comes to this Civil Service admission stream. All I will add to that is “you might wish to say that - I can’t possibly comment”.

Farage Facing Double Trouble

While his successor Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”, was trying to whip up hatred against followers of The Prophet on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning, pitching such pearlers as claiming Beth Din tribunals were fine, but Sharia ones were not, because there were fewer Jews than Muslims in the UK, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was back in the news, and for all the wrong reasons.
Squeaky double jeopardy finger up the bum time

Farage has been inexplicably handed a regular show by broadcaster LBC, and there he has made a name for himself saying things that he may later come to regret, such as asserting that Swedish city Malmo was the “rape capital of Europe, if not the world”. But it was his attack at the end of last year on murdered MP Jo Cox’s widower Brendan where Mr Thirsty slipped up big time - and which has returned to bite him.

Farage claimed that Cox, who has dedicated himself to opposing extremism, would “know more about extremists” because he supported Hope Not Hate. This was, he concluded, because that group pursued “violent and undemocratic means”. That, as I pointed out at the time, would have been news to Hope Not Hate, as well as being a defamatory and malicious smear. It has now landed Farage with a libel action.
Look who's back in the news

Hope Not Hate asked Mr Thirsty to retract and apologise. It was ignored. So Hope Not Hate have crowdfunded a legal action, lodging a claim for between £50,000 and £100,000 in damages. The case certainly appears to be an open and shut one: unless Farage can back up his assertion, he’s in the shit. And all because he, like his soulmate Katie Hopkins, didn’t have the common sense to chill out and say sorry.

And if that were not enough trouble for him, Farage has also come back under the spotlight for his clandestine visit to the Ecuadorian embassy - presumably to see long-term resident Julian Assange of Wikileaks infamy. As The Observer has told today, the suspicion that Farage is the channel by which the Trump Gang and Assange communicate has been raised once more - after leave.EU became the subject of an expense probe.

Carole Cadwalladr muses “Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund owner, bankrolled the Trump campaign and his company, Cambridge Analytica, the Observer has revealed, donated services to Leave.EU. If this issue forms part of the Electoral Commission investigation, this isn’t just a case of possibly breaking rules by overspending a few pounds. It goes to the heart of the integrity of our democratic system. Did Leave.EU seek to obtain foreign support for a British election? And, if so, does this constitute ‘foreign subversion?’” Arron Banks claimed Cambridge Analytica had been key.

Ms Cadwalladr also noted “A fundamental principle of British democracy and our electoral laws is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations”. The whole Dark Money episode is back for discussion - and, worse for Farage, Assange has risked the Streisand Effect by snapping abusively at Ms Cadwalladr, rather than engaging brain and keeping schtum.

Nigel Farage now has two potentially sticky problems to face. But if you don’t think before shooting off your mouth, and swim with the sharks, you can expect nothing less.

Top Six - April 23

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have to be out and about later. So there.
6 General Election - Why It’s Now The economy is about to tank, and the Tories think Labour is there to be buried. No other reason enters.

5 Tory Expenses - It’s Back The prospect of as many as 30 people, including up to 20 MPs, has come closer - despite the General Election announcement.

4 Simon Danczuk Is Finished Rochdale’s still nominally Labour MP will not be able to stand for that party at the General Election if he remains suspended.

3 Sun Danczuk Exclusive BUSTED The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are hoping Simon Danczuk is readmitted to the Labour Party - because they have ex-wife Karen’s tell-all story ready to run, which would be used to damage Jeremy Corbyn.

2 Nigel Farage Racism EXPOSED Mr Thirsty was swift to call the bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund team coach as Islamic terrorism, and rant on about all those ghastly brown people coming from the Middle East, but when it turned out to be the German far right, he was silent.

1 Tory Expenses - Mundell Miracle A post from May last year has come back to lead this week’s Top Six. The Tories’ only Scottish MP has questions to answer about his election expense return - especially how all those activists who made round trips of as much as 200 miles did not feature on it.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

So Farewell Then Eric Pickles

While much of the press has been working itself into a frenzy of Labour bashing at the news that some of the party’s MPs will not be standing for re-election, that same level of scrutiny has not always been applied to the Tories, where - to no surprise at all - several of their number, including former ministers, have also decided to call it a day in June. One of those in the latter category is Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles.
It therefore looks as if Pickles, with his faux “man of the people” persona, will retire unscathed from a career which demonstrated the extreme flexibility of his principles, a penchant for shameless opportunism, and an ability to ally himself with the right people at the right times, yet complemented by very little visible talent.

Some observers may be surprised that Eric Pickles began his political career on the progressive wing of the Tory Party. He was anti-racist, consensual and small-L liberal. All of that changed when Ray Honeyford came along.

Honeyford was appointed headmaster of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, located in an area which had a racially diverse population. While in that job, he wrote an article for the Salisbury Review, which at the time was “pro-repatriation”. Very few people read the piece, as the Salisbury Review enjoyed a very small circulation. But then someone at the right-leaning Yorkshire Post had it reprinted in that publication, and all hell broke loose.

One look at the title of Honeyford’s article tells you why: “Education and Race - an alternative view”. The contents were little short of incendiary. The local education authority decided Honeyford had to go. But Tory high command, which included then PM Margaret Thatcher, decided otherwise. In this, she was backed up forcefully by the Daily Mail, even then a force for vicious, reactionary, and borderline racist views.

In the next round of council elections, Pickles’ friend Peter Gilmour lost his seat, with many party workers refusing to campaign for him. Pickles dumped the principled approach and from then on became a fervent populist. He backed Ray Honeyford against his colleagues and the Drummond parents. Mrs T clearly approved.

Pickles later became Tory group leader on Bradford Council: here, he managed by creative interpretation of the rule book to secure a majority of one in crucial votes and push through what became known as the “Bradford Revolution”. Mrs T applauded him for keeping the Poll Tax down, although central Government may have used a little creativity of its own to make the numbers add up. The consequences for ordinary people were dire.
Charges for leisure centres, school meals, home helps, meals on wheels, car parking and even cemeteries were raised. And old peoples’ homes were sold off. Council house rents went up and many local Government workers - including teachers - lost their jobs. Relations between the Tories and other parties in Bradford were poisoned for years afterwards. Pickles’ administration did not survive another round of local elections.

And then, on the quiet, Pickles cast around for a Parliamentary seat well away from Bradford, ultimately finding himself on a shortlist of one for Brentwood and Ongar. His policy in national Government was as it had been locally: selling off services, year-on-year cuts, demonising and blaming Trades Unions and any politician of opposing view.

He did this while carrying an enormous chip on his shoulder: when Pickles sneered that Labour politicians were out of touch and lived in “palatial mansions”, it harked back to when his parents ran a shop in Keighley’s less than totally salubrious Parkwood district. There was no “mansion” for young Eric: he had to share a first floor flat. Thus his career inferiority complex and burning sense of victimhood.

Despite that, and despite his lack of discernible ability, Eric Pickles managed to convince the Tories to give him a ministerial portfolio, and then show their gratitude by gifting him a knighthood. And all the while he has done little, if anything, outside politics, even when he was a humble Councillor: his predecessor as leader of Bradford’s Tory group, Ronnie Farley, was an accountant and businessman. Not Eric. He was just a politician.

And now, with many still not having rumbled him for the empty vessel he walks, looks and sounds like, Eric Pickles is retiring to spend more time with his comfortable pile of money. But probably not anywhere near Bradford.

Don’t Menshn You’ve Been Rumbled

Seth Abramson writes for a variety of publications. He is an attorney, and a Professor at the University of New Hampshire. One can therefore deduce that he can be called A Proper And Serious Journalist. He has, like many in the USA, cast an inquiring and sceptical eye in the direction of the Trump Gang and its connections. Here, he has encountered the online presence of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch.
Ms Mensch has now denounced Abramson as a Putin employee, and has accused him of treason. Abramson, in turn, has delved into the Mensch oeuvre and concluded that it contains precious few facts, but an overwhelming amount of falsehood and misinformation. Those few facts, though, have, along with her aggressive and obsessive approach, brought Ms Mensch a following. This may give some in the UK a déjà vu moment.

That is because we in Britain have been here before: Louise Mensch’s ability to garner attention, only to then spray her credibility up the nearest wall, is the stuff of media legend here. This trend was established during her membership of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, when she gained praise for her questioning of the Murdochs, only to then defame former editor Piers Morgan, for which she had to later apologise.

That lesson remained unlearned: Ms Mensch took up the cause of scientist Tim Hunt, immediately denouncing anyone of opposing view as a “liar”. But a year after she went in to bat for him, when the Commons Science and Technology Committee inquired into the Hunt affair, she was not called to give evidence. “No-one has asked for her opinion on this matter at all [and] nor will they” I was told at the time. Draw your own conclusions.
During her Hunt campaign, Ms Mensch took time out to wrongly accuse someone of hacking the security cameras at her home. She ignored requests to retract her claims. That was followed by threats to take legal action against writer Peter Jukes, and also myself. It was no more than bluster. But everyone else was lying.

The Mensch tendency to foot in mouth was exemplified when she accused a group of racial and religious hatred, and practising “coordinated sexual violence”. She apparently believed it was a group of refugees who were also Muslims. The photo she latched on to actually showed a Jewish group demonstrating their opposition to the Austrian far-right (and no, there was no “sexual violence”, either). One of her last Sun columns claimed “BREXIT looks more likely than ever after the EU coup in Portugal”. There was no coup. There was no outside intervention. She was wrong yet again.
Those Stateside were warned as to Ms Mensch’s creative approach to mere facts when she began to appear on Fox Business Network, claiming of recent refugee arrivals in Europe that “there are no real refugees” and it was all about “young men who have mostly just abandoned their womenfolk, abandoned their families, young men of fighting age who have literally stormed into Europe and pretty much taken it over”. Pure fantasy.

Now, as demonstrated by Seth Abramson’s more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger conclusion that “I'm one of the 210 people Mensch has falsely accused of treason. Read on if you want to see why I disavow any association with her”, another community is realising that Louise Mensch is the ultimate in unreliable information sources. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.