Monthly Archives: April 2012

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 39) or squeezing out the last drops

The closer we get to the London Mayoral election, the more desperate Kennite becomes. Today’s blog is sloppy even by his usual  slipshod standards. The title, guaranteed to have his legion of armchair warriors foaming at the mouth, says “Ken Livingstone: I will instruct the police to pursue illegal immigrants less”. But it soon becomes clear as one reads through the blog that this is less about illegal immigration and more about Ken addressing London’s Latino community. Though why Kennite is in such a strop about it, I will never know. The opening paragraph says,

Ken has been courting the Latin American community this week. At a meeting in south London he promised an “Amigo Month” promoting Latin culture.

Yes and so what? He continues by quoting Livingstone,

“One thing the mayor can do is to say we are two thousand police short in London. My priority is that they should be looking for serious criminals and providing protection to Londoners on the street rather than spending a large of time trying to round up hard-working illegal immigrants and deport them. That will not be my priority…

“As of this January, the mayor has much more power over policing than was the case when I was mayor, and I will work to try and shift the balance of our policing.”

Yes and…?

Well, nothing really. It turns out that Kennite hasn’t actually bothered to do any research. If he had done any checking, he would know that in 2008, Boris Johnson said he wanted an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Even Kennite’s own paper carried the story here and here.

What Kennite has  done is to lazily connect Latinos with illegal immigration and then lazily connect that with Ken Livingstone. This is what the nativists (as they call themselves) in the United States have done.  For men like Joe Arpaio, any Hispanic (well, anyone with brown skin) is an ‘illegal’.  This article from the unfair and unbalanced Fox News puts this into perspective. Furthermore, Kennite vainly attempts to paint Livingstone as ‘soft’ on illegal immigration but it’s an exercise in futility that only appeals to his hardcore of keyboard warriors.

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Filed under Journalism, London, London Mayoral election 2012, Media, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Mispronouncing names: Anders Breivik

I get a little irritated when people don’t pronounce non-English names correctly. To me, it demonstrates a lack of respect on the part of the offender,  even when the correct pronunciation has been pointed out to them by a native speaker. I have already written a blog on this very subject with regards to the former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Olympique Lyonnais manager Gerard Houllier, whose name is often mispronounced by BBC reporters, pundits and others.

With the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo this week, the BBC have done it again. Even when a Norwegian utters the correct pronounciation of the name “Breivik” to reporter Jon Sopel, he still pronounces the name “Bray-vik” instead of “Bry-vik”. What’s worse, is that he ignores the Norwegian who happens to be speaking and carries on with his mispronunciation as if nothing ever happened.

This is a mixture of arrogance and ignorance on the part of the BBC and, I daresay the other British news providers, who seem to feel that they know how to pronounce Norwegian names better than the Norwegians. The only BBC newsreader to pronounce Breivik’s name correctly was Huw Edwards on the 10 O’clock News last night. Everyone else has been absolutely shocking.

I thought the BBC had a tip-top pronunciation department. It seems to me that they no longer care about correct pronunciation. If anyone from the BBC is reading this, please don’t write and tell me that there are “two pronunciations” because it isn’t true.

POSTSCRIPT

Just to add, Breivik is a paranoid and cold-hearted mass murderer. Though there are some people in Britain who view him as a martyr. You can find them leaving comments on Telegraph blogs where they will trot out phrases like “anti-racism = anti-white” and “Cultural Marxism”. They will even provide links to right-wing conspiracy sites like Gates of Vienna, which they believe will lend gravitas to their ideas.  In a future blog I will dispel the myth of so-called Cultural Marxism and ask why the right is so obsessed with conspiracy theories.

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Foghorn’s worry

I found this unintentionally humorous tweet on Foghorn Phibb’s Twitter feed that is dated 4 April.

Translation: Private Eye isn’t doing what we want them to do. How dare they?

Regular readers will recall that Phibbs took exception to Hammersmith & Fulham being the subject of the magazine’s “Rotten Boroughs” column and, more importantly, the Eye’s report on the council’s tax-dodging antics. Such was his fury, that he tried to persuade the magazine to adopt a more lenient position. He failed (just like he failed to understand what the Latin phrase “sotto voce” means).

It seems Foghorn hasn’t quite grasped Private Eyes raison d’ être. Should we tell him? No, leave him to make a complete tool of himself (which isn’t, when all is said and done,  that difficult).

UPDATE:

The local Tories have published a recent letter sent to Private Eye by Phibbsy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Letter to Private Eye from Cllr Harry Phibbs

Dear Sir,

Your item about councillor allowances in Hammersmith and Fulham was misleading. Our allowances have been frozen for four years in a row.

Our basic allowance is £8,940 a year. Barking & Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Lambeth, Southwark and Newham are among those paying over £10,000 a year to their councillors.

The reason my own allowances increased between 2009/10 and 2010/11 was that I became a Cabinet Member and was paid extra for that. But the total budget for all the allowances remained the same. So the analogy with Council chief executives in North Tyneside and Newcastle being given big pay rises for carrying out the same role doesn’t really stand up.

Yours faithfully,
Cllr Harrry Phibbs,
Hammersmith and Fulham Council

Excuses, excuses. Anyway, what does the title “Cabinet Member for Community Engagement” mean in layman’s terms? And yes,  your eyes aren’t deceiving you, dear reader, there are 2 “R’s” in Harry.

As for “journalistic standards”, is he trying to tell us that his paper, The Daily Mail, upholds such standards? Excuse me, while I laugh and roll about on the floor.

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 38): Hatchet-Job Hodges gets in on the act too

Boy can Kennite churn them out. No sooner that he’s produced one blog in which he smears Ken Livingstone, out pops another. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: if Gilligan spends this much time on his single biggest obsession, then he can’t be doing much in the way of reporting. In one blog a few weeks ago, he claimed that the blogging was just a little sideline; a hobby, if you will… something that he does aside from his day job. But for those of us who keep tabs on him, it would be fair for us to conclude that his bosses at Canada Square have given him license to continue producing at least two smears a day. It pays the mortgage. Right?

This blog looks much the same as all the others. In fact, it reminds me of an alcoholic who is so desperate for a drink that he’ll try to suck the last droplet of beer out of a beer towel. His legion… well, not so much a legion as a gang of followers, hang on Kennite’s every word. One regular, the gloriously named “imrankhan”, who once told me that he was really a “Muslim” (this is the Internet, people say lots of things), spends most of his time on the blog doing the “amen” thing to Kennite’s evangelical rhetoric. Here’s one of his responses to Kennite’s call out.

The man is a compulsive liar.  I looked at his site earlier and he is still claiming that on 58 new affordable homes were started in London in the last six months.

As I have pointed out here before his Islamist crony in Tower Hamlets is claiming thousands completed in the last year something which has been  verified by The Institute of Housing.

He is still claiming to be going to cut fares in London by 7% when TfL have said this is impossible without stopping all improvements and a great deal of maintenance.  Within a year fares would have to rise by at least ten per cent and probably more.

Lie after lie and still there are 40% plus out there who will vote for this crook.  The only good thing about him being elected is that it will guarantee another Tory government because he will bring the Capital to the verge of bankruptcy.

Birds of a feather, as they say. Here, “imran” mentions the Institute of Housing but doesn’t link to an article or support his rant with a quote. This person is not any random commenter, he’s an astroturfer. He produces lengthy comments; many of them are well over 500 words long. I had an encounter with this fruitcake on Liberal Conspiracy fairly recently and after I’d exposed him as Kennite’s number one fan, he disappeared.

This blog is just as bad, “imrankhan” has left dozens of comments but this one caught my eye,

I had a phone around this morning to get reactions to the tears and without doubt everyone finds the whole thing cringingly embarrassing. It is on a par with his tears when he apologised on behalf of Londoners for their part in the Atlantic slave trade.

That was another nail in his coffin last time and I think that this has really done him.  The last time he was comforted by that crook from over the water Jesse Jackson.

I think it must be time for the two photos to appear side by side,  that will be something for Milliband to hang on the wall at home. I,ll see if I can dig it out.

Hang on, who’s the ‘journalist’ here? Kennite or “imrankhan”? I wonder how much he’s being paid to do this? No one spends entire days leaving massive comments on other people’s blogs without some kind of remuneration. Here’s another comment from “imran”.

I recommend that all read ” Islam’s Black Slaves ” by Ronald Segal, ” White Gold” by Giles Milton and ” The Grand Slave Emporium” by William St Clair.  These three books are all that anyone needs to know about how African rulers sold their own, sometimes, relatives to the Europeans.  Read them and shut up.

There appears to be no reason for this comment and if “imran” is supposed to be a Muslim, I wonder what kind of Muslim he is? Better still, why did he mention this at all? Is it because when Ken was mayor he apologised for the slave trade? It’s as if some people in this country cannot, for the life of them, come to terms with Britain’s involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade. It’s better to deflect attention away from such issue and go for the big smear. It’s also gives the racist half-wits that clutter Kennite’s blog something to moan about.

Gilligan’s stablemate, Dan ‘Hatchet-Job’ Hodges is a self-confessed Blairite; a Nu Labour numpty, who has all the charm and charisma of a deathwatch beetle. This is how the Torygraph describes him,

Dan Hodges is a Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest. He has worked for the Labour Party, the GMB trade union and managed numerous independent political campaigns. He writes about Labour with tribal loyalty and without reservation.

“A Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest”? Someone’s having a laugh.

In the last couple of weeks he’s produced 3 blogs to support Kennite’s ongoing smear campaign. That’s decent of him but Kennite doesn’t need help. He’s a one-man smear machine; a veritable solo industry of negative reportage.

Here’s a taste of yesterday’s blog,

But there is another truth as well. Which is there is no single individual in the Labour party who has been more indulged over the past 30 years than Kenneth Robert Livingstone.

Under his stewardship of the GLC, Livingstone became poster boy for the 1980s loony-left excesses that consigned Labour to the political wilderness. But having watched him lead his authority to extinction, Labour merely patted him on the back, and handed him a safe seat.

As John Smith and Tony Blair dragged their party back towards government, Livingstone sat sulking on the sidelines. Then, as the prospect of the London mayoralty hove into view, he sprang into life and began shouting “me, me, me”. Once again, his party – including me – gave him the benefit of the doubt. Blocked from being Labour’s official candidate, we voted for him anyway.

Ah, the “loony left”, the catchphrase of Tories and right-wing 80’s headbangers. Are you trying to tell us something, Hatchet-job? If this numpty was around in the 80’s he was probably helping Kinnock with his anti-socialist witch hunt. But something tells me that he’s still wet behind the ears. I reckon he thinks of himself as a ‘modernizer’. In other words, he’s a Blairite bootlicker. Now, he plays the role of the Telegraph’s pet ‘lefty’. But Hodges is no lefty, even if those who comment on his blog say so.

This blog puts Hatchet-Job’s role at the Torygraph into perspective.

In this blog he declares that it’s “the end of the road for Ken Livingstone”.

Yesterday, Ken Livingstone finally ran out of road. For almost a month, ever since my colleague Andrew Gilligan revealed that Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London has been using a corporate vehicle in a way that reduces – perfectly legally – his tax liability, Livingstone has tried every trick in the book to evade his pursuers. It was a smear. A fabrication. A non-story. He hadn’t used a tax avoidance vehicle. Then he had. One moment he was claiming that tax avoiders were “rich bastards” who should “not be allowed to vote”; the next he was questioning why anyone “would vote for a mayor that pays more tax than they have to”.

As with Kennite, Hatchet-Job offers no analysis of policy and there is absolutely no mention of Bojo the Clown’s poor performances on the hustings, not to mention his glaring lack of policies. It’s as if none of that matters at all and all that matters is the idea that Livingstone is a crook. But hang on, didn’t Emperor Windbag associate with a known criminal?

The people of London deserve better coverage of the election that what is given in the Tory press which is vehemently anti-Ken. So much so that it can’t bring itself to discuss the real issues.  There is also the issue of Johnson’s casual racism. I mean, is it really acceptable to refer to black people as “piccaninnies”?

Something that none of our smear jockeys have dared mention is the fact that Boris Johnson has lied about the so-called “super sewer” and the fate of Shepherds Bush Market. HF Conwatch has the story.

If Boris Johnson wins a second term at City Hall, it won’t be because of his policies. It will be because of a massive smear campaign that was started nearly two years ago.

Vote Ken for London Mayor!

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Filed under Journalism, London, London Mayoral election 2012, Media, propaganda, Yellow journalism

A Gorgeous Victory

It’s been nearly a fortnight since George Galloway won a historic victory in the Bradford West by-election.  The day after the election, many Labour Tweeters were exercised in their hatred of Gorgeous. Few of them looked to themselves for why they had lost so badly to a candidate whom the pollsters and psephologists had largely ignored. Luke Akehurst, for instance, couldn’t help himself and spent most of the day heaping a mixture of vitriol and spite on Galloway. It got to the stage where I thought that if a Tory had won the by-election, there would have been no bitchiness from most Labourites, just loads of wound-licking instead. But this is George Galloway and to most so-called mainstream types, his name is on a par with that of Peter Sutcliffe or Levi Bellfield.

I have a couple of issues with Galloway but, in the main, he does the job that many Labour members ought to be doing: giving the neoliberal tyrants and Tory bullies a hard time. He’s an eloquent speaker and a master orator and those are two things that are lacking in today’s House of Commons. Neither front bench has a decent orator and few backbenchers are capable of speaking with passion and conviction. These days when most MPs speak, they sound like they’re reading from the telephone directory.

Galloway, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon across La Manche, have both been described by their detractors as “left-wing populists”. It’s a backhanded compliment that is designed to belittle those who don’t support free-market economics. There has been no analysis on the part of these self-styled commentators.  Instead, they spend their time refusing to deal with the real questions and tell us that there is no alternative to cuts and austerity. Some right-wingers will respond with the very familiar “Well, what would you do” line, even though we’ve told them countless times. But there are none so deaf as those who refuse to hear.

The Torygraph has decided to ask different  set of questions , since it is now de rigueur to insinuate that an enemy politician has been less than straightforward about his tax affairs. Well, good luck with that chaps. I guess none of you have heard of Gorgeous’s reputation for litigiousness - and in the libel court, he always wins.  All this amounts to is a feeble hatchet-job that’s predicated on their own peevish attitude to left politics. Speaking of which, the same paper tells us that Galloway’s Viva Palestina could be  “removed from the Charity Commission’s register”. Bitter, spiteful and plain nasty but did you expect anything less from Britain’s ‘free’ press?

Gilligan has already produced the sort of article that we’ve come to recognise him for. Once the dust has settled on the London elections, you can bet that he’ll be churning out  more of the same sort of stuff that he’s written about Ken Livingstone. In fact, the articles will all look the same but with the names changed.

I congratulate Gorgeous on his victory and wish him all the best in the Commons. I also hope his victory heralds the beginning of a resurgence in the fortunes of Britain’s left-wing parties (well, with the possible exception of the cult-like Revolutionary Communist Group, of course). The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is contesting seats on the London Assembly as well as dozens of local councils around the country. Respect is also contesting seats – especially in Bradford.  Good luck to them all and let’s sweep the Social Darwinists out of power!

By the way, if anyone from TalkSPORT is reading this, I am available to take over Gorgeous’s vacant radio slot on Friday night.

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The London Mayoral Circus (or Bring Back the GLC)

There is a lot written in the papers about Ken Livingstone and not all of it is good. As we know, there is a reason the press writes awful things about Ken and it has nothing to do with his alleged (and entirely unproven) anti-Semitism or his supposed love of Islamism. It is because those papers are owned by Tory-supporting proprietors and they are unlikely to print anything that actually applauds Livingstone’s achievements as mayor. While they do this, they deliberately, some would say, wilfully, ignore the defects of their anointed mayoral candidate, Boris Johnson. Indeed, many of the right-wingers that rock up on Dave Hill’s blog tend to complain that Hill isn’t having a go at Livingstone. But then, why should he when the Tory press is working overtime to produce a never-ending stream of smears and baseless allegations that have been cooked up by the foetid mind of Lynton Crosby?

Naturally, Gilligan has been working overtime churning out smear after smear on behalf of his paymasters. As one person remarked on Twitter last week, Kennite has produced 27 blogs about Livingstone in a single month. That is an obsession. Moreover, it is the sort of obsession that is redolent of a thwarted lover-turned-stalker. In ordinary circumstances, Ken would be entitled to report Gilligan to the police and take the matter to court. Perhaps he should. I know I would.

The mayoral contest has been overshadowed by this silly tax evasion row. If it has adversely affected Ken, then it has also damaged Boris – though to hear his supporters talk, you would think that his shit doesn’t stink. I’ve encountered several of Johnson’s supporters on Liberal Conspiracy, all of them repeat the same lies. One of them, who called himself “hobson” even told me that “decent people won’t vote for Ken”. When I pressed him on his use of the word “decent” and told him that it was a value-loaded word and that he may well have used the words “good versus evil”, he replied with a load of gibberish about Ken being a “racist”. When I asked him to produce evidence to support his claim, he merely repeated the same nonsense. Is “hobson” an astroturfer? Quite probably. You will find more than a few Boris cheerleaders/astroturfers commenting on this Liberal Conspiracy blog.

BBC London recently grilled the mayoral candidates. Ken did well and Boris bumbled and avoided questions. Johnson’s attitude to the questions betrays his lack of substance and a worrying dearth of ideas. Indeed, since he has been mayor he has done relatively little aside from take Ken’s ideas and call them his own. His ‘Routemaster’ has become an expensive laughing stock. To get the bus on the road, he had to lie about bendy buses killing cyclists.

I’m now going to level with you. I never wanted a London mayor. I wanted a return to the Greater London Council. The idea of mayor came from the United States and has literally been grafted on to an entirely different political system. It doesn’t work. It was a pathetic compromise on Tony Blair’s part to appease the rabid right of the Tory party who complained that the GLC was “loony left” and a “waste of money”. The Greater London Assembly would be a different beast, he argued, and so it was.

The GLA is a fraction of the size of the old GLC and does not properly represent the people of London. London has a population of over 8 million and its assembly only has 22 assembly members – which is less than a quarter of the GLC’s 100 members.  The Republic of Ireland, for example, has a population of 4.5 million. There are 166  Teachta Dála in the Dail Eireann. Ireland’s population is half the size of London, yet the Irish people are better represented. In fact, the people of Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.7 million, are better represented by their 108 assembly members at Stormont. London’s legislature, such as it is, has limited powers to the extent that it may as well not exist at all.

In spite of my misgivings about mayors and tiny, unrepresentative assemblies, I am still going to vote for Ken Livingstone because I believe, that for all his faults, he has the best interests of Londoners at heart. Boris Johnson, on the other hand, regards the role of mayor as a stepping stone to other things. Johnson has also demonstrated his penchant for vanity projects.

You can have a laugh and follow Lynton Crosby’s Twitter feed here. He has 1230 followers and is following 6 people. He also has another Twitter account. Question: why does he need 2 accounts? Is his ego really that big? Probably not as big as Johnson’s enormous ego.

Speaking of Bozza’s huge ego, I found this story in the Daily Mail from 2009, from which I shall quote a portion.

Boris Johnson’s rivalry with David Cameron intensified yesterday when the London Mayor said he could one day try to become Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson hinted he might not stand for a second term in his current role and would be prepared to lead the country.

In a newspaper interview, Mr Johnson likened himself to the ancient Roman nobleman Cincinnatus, who was plucked from his farm to become dictator.

When I joked about Johnson being like a Roman Emperor, I wasn’t far from the truth. Even he admits it…though, admittedly, Cincinnatus was a dictator of the Roman Republic. Personally, I think Johnson is more like one of the minor but totally ineffectual emperors of the late period of the Western Empire: he’s full of hot air and vainglorious to a fault and like them, he has done nothing for those he claims to represent.

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