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Saturday, 17 February 2018

UKIP Sacks Bolton

And so the remaining followers of the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP descended on the unsuspecting city of Birmingham, where an Extraordinary General Meeting had been called on the subject of the party’s leadership. Under-fire Henry Bolton, his racist publicity stunt girlfriend, and his interestingly-crafted CV, faced rebellion from what passed for the party rank and file.
Bolton had one card up his sleeve - he had been endorsed by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who had said “‘for all his faults’, removing him would hasten UKIP's path to ‘irrelevance’”. Moreover, as the BBC has reported, “Mr Farage has warned the party - which won 12.6% of the vote in the 2015 general election but has been in a tailspin ever since - was in danger of ‘collapsing’ and it might be ‘too late to save it’”.

Party general secretary Paul Oakley, who is going soon as the Kippers can’t afford to pay him - or indeed other officials - told “I have no interest whatsoever in his personal life … For me, it's the fact that he's done nothing as leader, he's not making the case for Brexit … We've done nothing. Henry will be out after the local elections if he isn't out today”.

The problem for UKIP - quite apart from the party not even looking good enough to occupy a clown car - is the unappealing prospect of who might come next. The Beeb states “Several senior figures, including former leader Lord Pearson, have called on party officials to prepare for the future by uniting behind MEP Gerard Batten as interim leader, should Mr Bolton lose the vote”. But Batten is not known as Adolf von Batten for nothing. He is an unreconstructed bigot. A rabid Islamophobe. And probably a full-blown fascist.

So what happened? The party hasn’t got the money to support its current staff, and probably not enough to hold another leadership contest. No matter. The Kippers, adopting an uncannily lemming-like attitude, voted by a 63% majority to not only show Bolton the door, but instruct him to walk through it and out of the leadership. The BBC has claimedThe party will announce an interim leader later and an leadership election will take place within 90 days”. But by then, the party may well be over.

Adolf von Batten has been backed by the likes of Bill “Viagra and Golliwogs” Etheridge, who himself has been palling around with the group which attempted an amateurish citizen’s arrest of London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently, taking along a gallows on a car trailer. The White Pendragons were up for a lynching. That is the level of the next group waiting in the wings to take over UKIP. So it looks like “Back to the BNP”.

That is, of course, providing they manage to find £200,000 behind a convenient sofa soon in order to pay for the court judgment over MEP Jane Collins libelling three Labour MPs. The air of unreality also shows that Farage has finally lost his hold on the Kippers - it was widely believed that his endorsement won the leadership for Bolton - and that without Nige, UKIP is nothing. Fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists - Young Dave was right.

And I do hope the venue where today’s latest instalment in the UKIP farce insisted on cash in advance. They wouldn’t want to be handed a rubber cheque, after all.

Tory Youth Race Hatred EXPOSED

The Tory Party has had more than its fair share of problems with youth organisations connected to them over the years. After the Federation of Conservative Students was forcibly disbanded, all seemed well until the bullying scandal and the disgrace heaped on the Young Britons’ Foundation (as well as groups more directly linked to the party). Now The Blue Team is trying to ape Momentum, and it’s not going well.
Tory youth wing leader and pretend “personality” Stephen Canning has been suspended from the party after an incident reported by the Mirror: “Stephen Canning has been suspended pending an investigation into an incident in a London nightclub, during which it was claimed an MP’s staffer was ‘struck’ … It’s claimed a researcher for an MP had called an ex-girlfriend a ‘slut’ … It’s claimed Mr Canning’s hand ‘made contact’ with the ex-boyfriend’s face, but only in self defence … The alleged incident took place at Maggies, a Margaret Thatcher themed bar in London, three weeks ago”.
It's being claimed he wasn't there ...

Undeterred, it seems Canning was still up for organising another networking event, which happened last Tuesday. Again, there was trouble; the Police were called. But the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog played down the incident as nothing more than “a girl-on-girl fight”. We soon discovered the true story.

The Great Guido had been spinning for the Tories, passing off the fracas as something minor. But, as so often, it is what the Fawkes massive leave out that is most important. And what the Fawkes mob left out was the race hate part of it. The same thing that has bedevilled Tory youth groups for decades is still there.
... he and his pals pretended it was something and nothing ...

This was shown in the HuffPost’s report, which tells “Police were called to a night out for young Conservative supporters after a fight broke out following the arrival of a party member who had claimed ‘Islam poisons the mind’”. That same person shared a graphic claiming Islam equalled paedophilia, rape, beheadings, burning people alive, FGM, hostage taking, honour killing, slavery, oppression of women and Jihad.
... and look at the state of the one who saw nothing

Also present was Michael Brooks, who “is reported to have posted a graph to the group [Facebook group called the Young Right Society] showing a supposed increase in the population of sub-Saharan Africa with the caption: ‘Planet of the Apes isn’t science fiction, it’s a warning’ … He also described himself using codes associated with Nazism”.

So who would want to be associated with that kind of gathering? Well … “Also present were James Price of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute - both of whom gave speeches”. The Fawkes blog alleges that the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges was also in attendance.
There was even a link to the bullying scandal

Which is ironic: Desperate Dan is the first to lay into Labour for any kind of perceived or even alleged hatred, yet there he was, along with those pillars of the New Conservatism, at an event attracting racists and bigots. There was even a Tory Bullying connection.

The cops were called by one Marina Muttik. Who she? Ms Muttik is the young woman in the photo of Elliott Johnson and a laughing Mark Clarke. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chse, and all that.

Mail Corbyn Collaboration Hypocrisy

The ludicrous and totally untrue suggestion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was some kind of asset for the Czech security forces at the end of the Cold War is still being presented as fact by the Murdoch Sun and the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph this morning. But standing out once more is the sheer brass neck exhibited by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail.
Who f***ing says I can't piss my c***ing credibility up the f***ing wall, c***?!?!?

CORBYN ‘THE COLLABORATOR’” thunders the front page headline, with the supporting article claimingJeremy Corbyn was a paid informant of the Czech secret police at the height of the Cold War, a former Communist secret agent claims … Former spy Jan Sarkocy said he recruited the MP, codenamed Cob, in the 1980s … Mr Corbyn was an ‘asset’ who knew he was working with the Soviet puppet state, Mr Sarkocy claimed”.
The claims serve only to confirm that Jan Sarkocy lied for money in the late 1980s, and he is totally consistent in this today. The mountain of evidence in rebuttal of those lies is becoming rather obvious, with Politico reporting yesterdayJeremy Corbyn was not a collaborator with the communist-era secret service in Czechoslovakia, Czech media reported Friday, rebuking a story in the British press claiming that he met with a spy from that country in London”. The press’ expert witness has not fared well, either.
As Political Scrapbook has noted, “Hayden Peake, the curator of the CIA’s ‘historical intelligence collection’, said parts of [Anthony Glees’] book are ‘unintelligible’ and evidence to support some of his claims was missing”. Glees smeared John Roper as a spy. Roper was later made a Privy Counsellor. Spies don’t get on to the Privy Counsel. Glees is bust.
It gets worse: Corbyn supported a 1989 Early Day Motion backing workers in the then Czechoslovakia against “the corruption and mismanagement of the Stalinist bureaucracy”. Not exactly the actions of a “collaborator”. Former Guardian reporter David Leigh, who has some experience in this field, said simply “Anyone who knows anything about cold war Czech intel ops in London knows this 'story' is total tosh. Me, I'd sue”.
The Daily Mail demonstrates its opposition to collaboration with enemy régines
And remember that Privy Council mention? As David Clarke put it, “If there was even a serious hint of Corbyn colluding with the spy of a Communist State during the Cold war he would have been allowed nowhere near the Privy council. The very fact that he is a totally Vetted member of the Privy council shows the whole story to be complete bunk”.
Then, of course, we have to consider that the Mail is the last paper to call “Collaborator” on anyone else. This was the paper, after all, which shilled shamelessly for the Third Reich throughout the 1930s. Its owner sought out meetings with Adolf Hitler, routinely promoted the régime’s achievements, and parroted its disgusting anti-Semitism.
The Daily Mail knows all about collaborators. From promoting the Blackshirts, to happily letting readers know how many Jews were being removed from public office, to applauding Hitler’s desire for a Greater Germany, to decrying the arrival in Britain of Jewish refugees from the Nazi régime, the paper was in lockstep with German fascism.

This is shamefully deficient propagandising masquerading as journalism. Worse, it is so obviously untrue that it disgraces the profession that created it. No change there, then.

Littlejohn Bigotry Repels Advertisers

The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is on record as asserting “The family is the greatest institution on God’s green earth”. And for him, “the family” has at its core a man and a woman in a heterosexual, married relationship. So it has to be for the Daily Mail: anyone participating in any other form of relationship, whether unmarried, not monogamous, or not heterosexual, is to be frowned upon and, indeed, disparaged.
Homophobia, Guv? Issa big word, innit?!?

So it was that when Boyzone singer Stephen Gately died suddenly, the Mail dispatched Glenda Cattia Maxima Jan Moir to pass severely adverse comment on the idea that the relationship in which Gately was involved was at all normal. The headline, “A strange, lonely and troubling deathprovoked a deluge of complaints. The Press Complaints Commission, as was customary, wiped the Mail’s backside over the furore.

But the Mail never learns, never listens: Dacre has decreed that homosexuality is wrong; Mail pundits therefore ensure this line is delivered to the readers. The same denunciation has been meted out to Trans people, as when tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn went after teacher Lucy Meadows, who later took her own life. Littlejohn, too, though, never learns, and so he returned to gay- and trans-bashing yesterday.
Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal” ranted the headline: one has to remember that Littlejohn writes - badly - as if he were standing at the bar of a north London pub some time before the Millennium, which would be the last time he actually lived in this country. He could get away with gobbing off in that style then, and so from the comfort of his Florida mansion, believes he can continue to do so.

The attack on sportsman Tom Daley and his partner, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, was over their announcement that they are starting a family though surrogacy. Dicky Windbag also took the opportunity to indulge in more trans-bashing, and ordered anyone not yet asleep to “stop pretending that this is the new normal. Not in our house, it isn’t. Nor, I suspect, in yours or 99.99% of the rest of the world, either”.

Sadly for the Mail, Littlejohn’s freedom to be a rabid homophobic and transphobic bigot was matched by the paper’s advertisers exercising their freedom not to be associated with it. After Stop Funding Hate contacted many of them - along with many of the group’s supporters - several companies decided to put their ad spend elsewhere.
The South Bank Centre told “We have no future plans to advertise within the Daily Mail”. Honda UK decided to consider its position, which suggests the Dacre doggies are now on a yellow card with them. Quorn Foods requested that their online adverts alongside the Littlejohn rant were removed. And family holiday firm Center Parcs declared “We … take a number of steps to prevent our advertising from appearing alongside inappropriate content. We felt this placement was completely unacceptable and have ceased advertising with the Daily Mail with immediate effect”. Others may move or pull Mail advertising.

All of which underscores that, while the Mail is free to publish what it wants, the rest of the world is free to take its business elsewhere. And leave the Dacre doggies in the last Century.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Corbyn And The Stateside Wackos

Anyone who thought that the Murdoch Sun was going OTT over a meeting between the current Labour leader and a Czech diplomat over a cup of tea back in 1986 has not been paying attention to the wacko conspiracist fringe Stateside, where handing someone an old copy of the Sunday People has been not merely blown out of all proportion, but reinvented as something John le Carré would not have touched with a bargepole.
No, not a spy, sorry

To no surprise at all, the wacko fringe concerned involves (fortunately) former Tory MP Lousie Mensch and those who consider her credible. The latter category includes someone called John Schindler, who claims to be a former intelligence operative. He has written a totally off the wall piece for the New York Observer, titled modestly “Jeremy Corbyn was a communist spy”. The content is as wacko as the title.

How wacko? Have a look: “a disturbing new report in The Sun reveals that Corbyn was much more than just a left-wing activist in the 1980s - he was spying on his own country for the Warsaw Pact”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “The files in question appear entirely legitimate, and for Corbyn they are damning”. Wow. Do go on.
Corbyn was exactly the sort of rising Western politico that, in the 1980s, the KGB and its satellite partners like the StB were looking to work with … if the Western pol took a bite, it could be the start of what, to Communist spies, might prove a beautiful relationship. The key here is that Corbyn bit - hard”. Paid for the cups of tea, did he?

It gets worse: “the StB approved working with Corbyn, giving him the covername COB … This is a critical point. The StB, like its KGB mentors, used such covernames to refer to foreign agents in their files to maintain a degree of security”. Yeah, right. COB is hardly secret, is it? Not quite in the same league as Gerald the mole in Tinker, Tailor.
The stuff of nightmares (no, it isn't Ann Coulter. Yet)

You want worse? “Corbyn reportedly warned Dymic about increased British security measures, and he claimed to be ‘very well informed’ of people in contact with ‘anti-Communist agencies.’ In other words, COB was willing to pass British counterintelligence secrets to the StB”. Bullshit. The Czech file claims Corbyn was “very well informed”. Schindler’s conclusion is puerile conspiracist tosh.

So when Schindler concludes “In Western terms, Corbyn was a Communist spy”, he’s away with the fairies. Hell, the Sun’s report was stretching credibility beyond the bounds of elasticity. But Ms Mensch was soon on hand to help. Or bring the house down.
Ready out there? Here she comes: “The evidence is not as you have stated that @jeremycorbyn merely met spies; it is that he gave them classified information on MI5’s progress in hunting down Russia’s assets in the UK (including those of her then client states)”. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION? F*** right off. Jezza passed the Czech diplomat an old copy of the Sunday People. Which their embassy probably had delivered anyway.

You want to know how totally wacko the conspiracist fringe can get Stateside? Look no further than John Schindler and Louise Mensch. For them, saying “Not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” is not sufficient. They have lost touch with reality.

[Czech media has now disputed the Sun story - just for good measure]

Corbyn Spy Smear BITES TORIES

The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press has tried its best to capitalise on yesterday’s lame attack by the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, which pretended that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had been some kind of Eastern Bloc go-between in the late 1980s. That this was a shameless pack of lies, backed up by an “expert” whose work has been widely discredited, was not allowed to enter.
Look Uncle Arthur, I'm in the papers again

So today we have had Jezza passing someone an old copy of the Sunday People inflated intoMr Corbyn allegedly provided the spies with material about the arrest of an East German” by the Mail. But then the Dacre doggies spray their credibility up the wall by telling readers “Czechoslovakia, which at the time was a puppet state of President Gorbachev's USSR”. The same Gorbachev that Mrs T “could do business with”.

The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker tried‘BETRAYING HIS COUNTRY’ Jeremy Corbyn ‘cannot be trusted’ says Defence Secretary after Sun reveals he met Communist spy in Parliament at the height of the Cold War”. That’s the same Defence Secretary - Gavin Williamson, aka Private Pike - who just agreed to host dinner for the wife of a former Russian finance minister - someone with impeccable Putin connections.

And while we’re on the subject of the Tories and Russian connections, let’s not forgetAn interpreter who visited 10 Downing Street in July has been arrested in Ukraine on suspicion of spying for Russia … Stanislav Yezhov - an interpreter for the Ukrainian cabinet - was detained by the country's police today … In a shocking Facebook post, Ukraine's prime minister Volodymyr Groysman said that Yezhov had 'long been working in the interests of a hostile government’”. Is there more? As if you need to ask.
Dodgy Russian connections? Look who's here

What could be worse than a back bench Labour MP having a cup of tea with someone from an Eastern Bloc country? How aboutMinister and the mysterious beauty from Belorussia with love: How Whittingdale enjoyed an intimate relationship with the daughter of a USSR military officer”. Forgotten about John Whittingdale? I haven’t. The Mail admitted “John Whittingdale's fondness for ex-Soviet states extends beyond politics”.

And yet worse: as the Independent told back in 2009, when the Cameron Tories were trying to cosy up to the Murdoch mafiosi, “In those days, Murdoch had more time for John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Commons committee on culture and media, who had worked for Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, than for anyone in Cameron's shadow cabinet”. Why might that have been?

We won’t be getting an answer to that, as the Sun wants us tolook over there”: “Jeremy Corbyn has shown shocking judgment in ‘briefing’ a Soviet spy - and he cannot be allowed the keys to No10”. He didn’t brief anyone. And, as to “Let's have his answers at last and let's see what's in his still-closed Stazi file”, Jezza answers to the electorate, not the Murdoch goons. Who would improve their credibility by spelling Stasi properly.

The Tory-supporting press has no room to call out Jeremy Corbyn for anything in his past. Worse, their favourites really do have “questions to answer” about what they are up to right now - and they are the ones in power. This story is just another failed Dead Cat.

Julia Hartley Dooda Tax Shock

The tax authorities “won a key tribunal ruling against Christa Ackroyd, the former presenter of the [BBC’s] regional Look North programme” yesterday at the Royal Courts of Justice, as the Guardian has reported. The reason for her appearance? “Ackroyd worked at the BBC on what is known as a personal service company contract, meaning she was self-employed and using a limited company instead of being employed directly on the corporation’s payroll”. And what was the damage?
We know who you are, thanks

Ackroyd has now lost an appeal against HMRC – which is demanding from her £419,151 in income tax and National Insurance contributions”. Ouch! But is this a one-off? Well, no it isn’t: “HMRC is in the process of investigating about 100 current and former BBC presenters, and stars from other broadcasters, over claims of tax avoidance”.
Who the “stars from other broadcasters” might be was hinted at by Jolyon Maugham, whose response was fascinating: “A whole string of cases involving broadcasters using personal service companies coming up. And the prospect of some huge tax bills: Farage, Dale, Hartley-Brewer, Livingstone and many others”. Why so?
Well, this revolves around what is known as IR35. If you work through a limited company, but your work - or, as the Christa Ackroyd case has shown, part of your work - is the equivalent of permanent employment, then that part of your work is “caught” by IR35 and it must be taxed in a similar way to a salaried employee. No payment via dividends, for instance, is permitted. No dodging NI payments is possible.
All the names Maugham has pitched have, as far as is known, a variety of income sources. But all share one factor: a significant part of their income is, or was, from a regular slot for a broadcaster. If the Christa Ackroyd case holds as a precedent, those regular berths - a weekday show, for instance - will be “caught” by IR35. And if those concerned did not treat them as equivalent to salaried employment, they’re in trouble.
Which brings us to Talk Radio’s current breakfast host Julia Hartley Brewer, who has previously admitted to paying less tax because she works through her own limited company. Ms Hartley Dooda took grave exception to any suggestion she was avoiding tax when discussing the matter recently, but did make one telling admission.
She told Maugham “I don’t channel my money anywhere. My company pays the same rate of corporation tax as any other company does … I, like all freelancers with unpredictable earnings, pay a lower rate of tax and NI as we don’t get salaries, holiday pay, pensions, sick pay, maternity pay etc”. That argument lost when IR35 was challenged in 2001.
Note the “I … pay a lower rate of tax”. That might not be a clever thing to let slip. Still, she was adamant when challenged “I pay NI and income tax. Full stop”, and frothed at one persistent Tweeter recently “You are actually libelling me. I pay NI and tax. Now fuck off”.

Whether that last one will impress HMRC, or the courts, is however not known. What is known is that Julia Hartley Dooda has admitted paying “a lower rate of tax” and her regular weekday berth at Talk Radio could find itself “caught” by IR35. Oh dear!

And there’ll be no talking her way out of that if it is. What a deserving presenter she is.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

UKIP Loses Court Case

The remnants of the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP have been heading for financial oblivion for some time now. But the process has accelerated of late, with the European Parliament stopping many of its MPs’ salaries in order to recoup money fiddled via expense payments, and the Kippers’ EP group losing around £500,000 in funding. And then came the Jane Collins court case.
Jane Collins MEP - dropped the Kippers in the mire

Ms Collins libelled three Labour MPs over the Rotherham grooming scandal. She faced a significantly sized bill for both costs and damages. Then it became clear that UKIP had made financial commitments to her in respect of meeting those costs. Judgment was handed down today by Mr Justice Warby at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Those representing UKIP were hopeful that they could somehow deflect the action against them, but all that they gained was the revelation that the Collins case could, and indeed would, have been settled with far less financial and reputational damage to all concerned, had the Kippers allowed it to be in early 2015. It was by their doing that the affair was dragged out beyond that year’s General Election.

Also not coming out of the whole affair well is UKIP’s legal whizz Matthew Richardson, another of those from the inner circle of the Young Britons’ Foundation, the “Conservative Madrasa” which is now effectively defunct following the Elliott Johnson saga and the associated revelations of bullying within Tory youth organisations.

The judgment notes that the claim was notified to Ms Collins within days of the speech in which she had made it, going on to tell “The claim was first discussed by UKIP’s NEC at its 
monthly meeting on 13 October 2014, when the Party Secretary (Matthew Richardson)  reported ‘We have someone suing Jane Collins for defamation - we are dealing with that  currently’. He expressed the opinion: ‘I don’t see it going anywhere’. That proved wrong”.
But by a UKIP NEC meeting in February 2015, things had become more serious: “The  minutes record that Matthew Richardson ‘outlined the situation’ to the Committee. Evidently, ‘the situation’ concerned the cost of settlement. According to the record, he said ‘It looks like £300,000 is the damages if she loses outright and then costs would be in  excess of that. If we settle it will look closer to £60,000 it is looking like.”

UKIP did, however, not settle there and then. They decided to deliberately delay the matter until after that year’s General Election. The Judge asserted “In that period, the party took a deliberate, informed and calculated decision, for reasons of party political advantage, to ensure that the case was not settled before the General Election … In my judgment, it very probably did thereby prevent a settlement that it had been advised should be made and which would otherwise have occurred quite swiftly”. Now the big number is £670,000.

As a result, a limited costs order was made against UKIP “to reflect the impact on the action and its costs of the Party’s deliberate and calculated decision(s) of late February and early March 2015, to ensure for Party political and specifically electoral reasons that  the claimants’ action should not be settled before the General Election”.

Put simply, the Kippers are now even deeper in the financial mire. Serves them right.

Max Mosley Hits Press With Reality

The Press Establishment does not like people who not only have the resources to take them to the cleaners, but do so. It’s bad enough having to settle with the likes of Jo Rowling at the door of the court, but when people like Max Mosley come back with claims of misrepresentation, that is too much for the poor dears. And that is what Mosley has done. So our free and fearless press has taken the usual action in response.
Max Mosley - objects to continual press dishonesty

That is, to no surprise at all, to talk well, but lie badly. So we get the Murdoch Times whining plaintively “Ex-F1 boss begins legal bid to limit free speech”, while downmarket sister title the Sun has gone withMAX MUZZLEY Max Mosley has begun a legal bid to gag the Press forever over his S&M orgy”. Meanwhile, the Mail has brought readersMax Mosley launches legal bid to scrub his notorious German-themed orgy from history in a chilling attack on Press freedom”. This is mostly untrue, but hey ho.

No-one can object to free speech, or even free dissenting speech, and Mosley does not. He does, however, take exception to the Murdoch and Rothermere press printing falsehoods about him on a regular basis (and talking about a matter which was judged to have been private when he took the Screws to the cleaners).

So when the Times protests that he is “trying to ban newspapers from asserting that he personally funds or bankrolls Impress, the state-recognised press regulator, or can exert control or influence over it”, there is a gaping hole in their irony continuum opening up before their eyes. Mosley does not personally fund Impress, which is not “state recognised”, and cannot exert any influence upon it.

But it is when these less than totally august titles protest about potential use of Data Protection legislation that the biscuit is well and truly taken. The Mail has delegated this part of its fightback to Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover, who puts on his customary straight face and proclaims[the DPA] was never intended to be applied to newspapers. This is a novel and terrifying development”. This is 100% certified bullshit.

Glover has, perhaps deliberately, forgotten the saga of Steve Whittamore, whose house in the Hampshire coast town of New Milton was turned over by the Police at the behest of the  Information Commissioner in March 2003. Whittamore traded in information gathering, most of which was of an illegal nature. Driving licence details, bank statements, credit card details, criminal records, phone call records, Steve was the press’ main man.

Of 13,343 information requests made to Whittamore in the preceding three years, it was estimated that 11,345 were, as Nick Davies put it in Flat Earth News, “classified as being either certainly or very probably in breach of the Data Protection Act”. And Steve’s number one customer? Davies again: “it was the Daily Mail which was the most active single buyer - sixty-three Mail journalists had made a total of 985 requests (an average of at least one every single working day over the three years”. Hello Stephen Glover.

On that basis, Max Mosley and his legal team have good cause to invoke data protection law. The only reason the press is protesting is that someone out there is calling them out for pretending that law somehow doesn’t apply to them. It does.

All that Max Mosley is doing is to bring a dose of reality to the press. Good thing too.

Death In Westminster

The plight of rough sleepers has been thrown into sharp focus this winter after a number of them died during the long, cold nights. And while the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press has invented all manner of excuses to “look over there”, with the Sun’s inept smearing of Jeremy Corbyn this morning taking the biscuit in no style at all, the tragedy of the homeless dying on our streets has now come very close indeed to Parliament itself.
Yesterday it was reported that a homeless man had died just across the road from the Houses of Parliament. Free sheet Metro told “A man died in an underpass at Westminster Tube station during the freezing cold weather last night … Police and paramedics were called to the Tube station at just after 7am this morning after he was found unresponsive in an area where rough sleepers often spend the night”.

He was not the only recent death among that sad and neglected community: the Guardian had an equally sad tale from Bournemouth. “An investigation has been launched into the death of a rough sleeper whose body was found in a car park amid claims that sleeping bags used by homeless people were removed as part of a tidy-up … The 66-year-old man, identified only as Kev, was discovered by an office worker in a car park in Bournemouth, Dorset … Kev had not been well and his final words to a soup kitchen volunteer were: ‘If I wake up, I wake up. If I don’t, I don’t’”. Kev was 66, as was the man outside Parliament.
One party leader was moved to demand action: Jeremy Corbyn responded to the news by letting his followers know “I've just been told about the death of a rough sleeper right by the entrance to Parliament. The powerful can't carry on walking by on the other side while people don't have a home to call their own. It's time all MPs took up this moral challenge and properly housed everyone”. Meanwhile, one of his colleagues had more bad news.

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, told “Just had awful news that a rough sleeper has died in Barnsley. It's appalling that in 2018 people are dying because they've nowhere to live … Today I visited @RoundaboutSheff who're doing amazing work to support the homeless. No doubt that Govt are failing the most vulnerable”.
To be reduced to living on the streets is for most of us unimaginable. We often shut it out of our consciousness, so awful is the prospect in today’s world of plenty. But that plenty is not for everyone, and more and more are falling through the net, like the poor soul who was found dead yesterday morning after a freezing cold night in Westminster.

It is not a coincidence that last December, David Gauke, now Work and Pensions minister, admitted on The Andy Marr Show (tm) that “Some benefits sanctions that forced the poorest into debt ‘were wrong’”. That report also told “Sanctions on certain benefits have been blamed for forcing some of the poorest people in society into poverty and leaving them at risk of homelessness”. The Gauke Twitter feed is silent this morning.
But someone out there cared about the unknown man who died inside Exit 3 of Westminster Tube: as Dan Sabbagh of the Guardian observed, “After the death last night of a rough sleeper at Westminster tube, by the door of Parliament a small shrine forms including a card from @jeremycorbyn”. Yes, a party leader cared about him.

Meanwhile, the right-wing press and its pals smear Jezza as a Commie. Sick, or what?

Sun Corbyn Smear Beyond Desperate

Once upon a time, the Murdoch Sun was shifting four million copies a day. But how the mighty are fallen: now the paper’s circulation is in freefall, it’s descended below a million and a half, its credibility has long ago fallen below risible status, and it’s losing money hand over fist. But the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have their instructions, and those include putting the boot into Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
This imperative, and the desperation of the Murdoch goons to get something - anything - to stick to Jezza, has led to today’s farcical front page, which attempts to exhume Cold War paranoia in order to discredit Corbyn. “Shock Claims In Secret File … CORBYN AND THE COMMIE SPY … Met agent in Cold War … Targeted by Czechs … ‘Briefed’ evil regime” screams the routinely dishonest headline this morning.

There is no secret - the file the Sun is quoting is publicly available, otherwise they would not have got access to it. ‘Briefed’ is in quotes because it’s a claim they can’t stand up. And as for the idea Jezza met an agent, well, no he didn’t. But his spokesman admittedIn the 1980s he met a Czech diplomat, who did not go by the name of Jan Dymic [the name quoted by the Sun], for a cup of tea in the House of Commons”.
Anthony Glees - an expert con artist

Wow. So what happened? “Jeremy neither had nor offered any privileged information to this or any other diplomat”. Indeed. He was, after all, an opposition back bencher at the time. The spokesman also points out the flaw in the Sun’s rant: “During the Cold War, intelligence officers notoriously claimed to superiors to have recruited people they had merely met. The existence of these bogus claims does not make them in any way true”.

The Czechs had to claim they had done something worthwhile. It would have kept them in London and away from the decaying and disintegrating totalitarian state they had left to come here. And indeed, the Sun ponies up nothing more convincing than “Mr Corbyn allegedly provided a copy of a Sunday People article about a bungled MI5 investigation into suspected Stasi spy Ulrich Kempf”. Cor! Real classified information, eh?

And what puts the lid on this farrago is the Sun’s “expert witness”, Anthony Glees, who claims to be a “Professor”. He scoffs “Mr Corbyn says he didn’t know, but it shows breathtaking naiveté from someone who wants to head the British government”. Well, if we’re going to talk breathtaking naiveté, Glees is the man to deliver it.
You should be getting fired in the morning

He has in turn smeared Universities as terrorist recruiting grounds (on the basis of no evidence at all), claimed that the East German Stasi had numerous “assets” in Britain, often on the basis of nothing more than a mixture of confident assertion and sneering innuendo, and named City University London as one of his alleged hotbeds of terror, his evidence free approach earning this rebuke from its then Vice Chancellor: “I ask that you substantiate your claim or that you issue an immediate apology, remove City University from your list and notify the Guardian”. Glees is a Walter Mitty. He’s a con artist.

Jeremy Corbyn did nothing wrong in his dealings with Czech diplomats. There is no credible evidence to the contrary. The Sun has had to rely on a source that no-one in the intelligence agencies will touch with a bargepole. The whole story is an embarrassment.

So that’s Tony Gallagher one step closer to that P45, then. What a deserving chap.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Boris Brexit Bonhomie BUSTED

Ken Dodd is 90. This may seem a strange way to introduce a post on Brexit, and the latest intervention on the subject by a cabinet minister, but whenever I see London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson standing there with arms outstretched, the thought occurs that his appearance would be improved immeasurably by issuing him with two tickling sticks and a suitable script. Like, oh, I dunno.
There's something missing here ...

What a day Missus! What a day … what a day for a trip to Brussels, going up to Jean-Claude Juncker, handing him a colander, and saying ‘try straining your sprouts through that, pal’. How tickled he would be! How tattyfalarious and full of plumptiousness it would make the European Commission! What a day, Missus! Tatty bye, everybody! Tatty bye!

No, that’s not excessively flippant. Seriously, it isn’t. In fact, it’s quite in keeping with what happened when Bozza, sans tickling sticks, fetched up at Policy Exchange, the alleged “think tank” that was quite in vogue until one of its alumni went totally AWOL and claimed Liverpool should be shut down and all its inhabitants moved to London. What Doddy would have made of that would produce even more tattyfalariousness.

Anyone considering me to be indulging in an excess of levity should consider this exchange, which took place after The Great Man had delivered his alleged oration.

Journalist: “Foreign Secretary, what do you say to those people who say ‘Yet another speech on Brexit, but where is the clarity?’
Bozza: “The carrot?
Journalist: “The clarity”.
Bozza: “Clarity! OK. God. Carrot. Carrot … Well, as I say, I think you have an abundance of clarity in the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech … What I’m trying to address is a feeling that I pick up talking to people that they’re not getting the message, the positive agenda - I think there is a great positive agenda and we need to get that out there and explain it. And it can be good for carrots too, by the way. All right, you didn’t actually mention carrots, but … we can take back control of our agricultural policies, and it may well be that we can do wonderful things with, you know, to our own regulations to, you know, promote organic carrots”. What a day, Missus! Tatty bye, everybody! Tatty bye!
... yes, it's the tickling sticks

The speech itself was little better: no mention of the Irish border, far less of the peace process. Nothing on Britain’s future relationship with the EU, which might be thought to have some importance here. But there was plenty on, er, the Thai sex trade and dogging. And, as Theresa May likes to say, I am not making this up.

Worse for not just Bozza, but all those out there on the right pretending that his appearance at Policy Exchange should not have been moved to the Wheeltappers and Shunters, was the reception his repeated and untrue claim that the EU was about a European Superstate received from Juncker, who was firm in his rebuttal of the idea.

Some in the British political society are against the truth, pretending that I am a stupid, stubborn federalist, that I am in favour of a European superstate … I am strictly against a European superstate. We are not the United States of America, we are the European Union, which is a rich body because we have these 27, or 28, nations … The European Union cannot be built against the European nations, so this is total nonsense”.

But then, he was taking the whole thing seriously, which Bozza certainly wasn’t. Also trying to raise the tone was Guy Verhofstadt, who poured cold water on another of Bozza’s false assertions: “Putting up barriers to the movement of trade and people and suggesting that the identity of citizens can only be national is not liberal - it’s quite the opposite”.

Juncker, while Bozza was playing the clown in London, has been doing something most of our free and fearless press will not be reporting: pitching reform of the European Parliament into a bi-cameral legislature, along with a directly elected President. We won’t hear too much of that, because the press agenda is to paint the EU as being undemocratic. That’s why they have elections for the European Parliament, you know.

No, Bozza’s oration was not about the EU. It was about the promotion of Himself Personally Now, within the boundaries mapped out by his real masters, the holders of the keys to the modern-day equivalent of the safe full of incriminating material at the Murdoch press. Rebekah Brooks will have been more than happy at her man’s performance.

The jokes didn’t work. The excursions into Latin fell flat. If only he had ruffled his hair that bit more carefully, got himself a decent scriptwriter, and invested in a couple of tickling sticks, then the audience would really have sat up and took notice.

Mind you, Theresa May might have given him notice, too. Tatty bye, everybody!