Monthly Archives: July 2011

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 30)

Within days of Anders Behring Breivik’s attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya, Kennite wrote this article for the Telegraph,

I wouldn’t suggest that anyone was actually pleased by the horror in Norway. But within hours of the gunman being identified as white, certain British Islamists and their sympathisers were behaving as if they had caught a lucky break.

So what is he saying here? Surely those who identify with Breivik’s notions of ‘cultural Marxism’ are no doubt pleased. It’s patently misleading to say otherwise.  Gilligan also appears to be suggesting that we “ignore the extreme right, it’s the Muslims we need to worry about”.  Regardless of who they are or what they do, Kennite gives all Muslims the broad brush treatment. He is indiscriminate. Those who work to promote tolerance are also similarly attacked. He doesn’t use the word “Dhimmi” but doesn’t mind much if his commenters use it.  One such person is Robert  Lambert of Exeter University, whom Kennite reports as saying, “Nationalists pose a bigger threat than al-Qaeda”. Gilligan adds,

The Islamist threat, he said, was “minimal” by comparison. Ibrahim Hewitt, the head of a charity called Interpal, wrote that “the new Right is on the rise across the West” thanks to “the collusion of Western governments”.

Any group or academic school that researches Islam or its relations with other religions is wrong in Kennite’s mind. Furthermore, most security commentators agree that Al-Qaeda is not the threat that it once was. Here, Kennite says,

Clearly, the number killed by Anders Behring Breivik is greater than in any single Islamist terror attack in the UK; and equally clearly, the murderer was motivated by hatred of Muslims. This cannot, however, have been his main motive, or he surely would have taken his assault rifle to an Oslo mosque, rather than an island of white teenagers. To even suggest equivalence between years of Islamist terror and the far Right, based on a single, awful case, is deeply dangerous and false.

Who said anything about “equivalence” but I would put it to him that terrorism and spree killings are abhorrent no matter who carries them out. What he seems to be suggesting is that ‘Islamist’ terrorism is somehow worse than any other form. It’s the way he reminds us how Breivik didn’t attack a Mosque but instead killed – and notice how he says this – “white teenagers” not only misses the point but indicates a fundamental dishonesty at the heart of his writing. If Muslims aren’t part of a race, then why mention these “white” teenagers at all? In fact, one of the youths who was murdered by Breivik was

Ismail Haji Ahmed, 20, was a talented dancer who had appeared on Norway’s Got Talent, using the name Isma Brown.

Ismail was dark-skinned and a Muslim.

While nobody should deny that there is anti-Muslim hatred in Britain, and it’s disgraceful, nearly all the available evidence shows that it is not “rising” but diminishing.

Naturally, Gilligan offers no evidence for his assertion that Islamophobic attacks are on the decline. Furthermore  who or what is the source for this earth-shattering  information? Daniel Pipes? Pamela Geller?

The Tory chairmanship, once home of Norman “Cricket Test” Tebbit, is held by a Muslim woman. The number of Muslim MPs doubled at the last election, some elected for entirely non-Muslim seats (Bromsgrove, Gillingham, Stratford-upon-Avon) with no backlash whatsoever. Continental moves to ban minarets and the niqab have gained no political traction at all in Britain.

The current Tory chair is Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who is often lambasted on the pages of the Torygraph. Only last week, this blog from Nile ‘Moonie’ Gardiner appeared.

If she does make an exit from Millbank to Islamabad, Baroness Warsi will leave behind a remarkably undistinguished track record, peppered with a series of distinctly un-conservative outbursts, which were frequently at odds with the views of her own prime minister. Only time will tell if she proves more successful in the realm of international diplomacy. One thing is certain though: her contribution to the cause of British conservatism has been practically non-existent.

“Islamabad”?  Yes, I wondered why he said that too. She’s from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, why wouldn’t she want to go back there or live in Chelsea for that matter?  Back to the article,

The English Defence League, although vile, shows the British far Right’s weakness, not its strength. Two years ago, haters of Muslims had at least a semi-credible political party, the BNP, with serious hopes of winning one or more councils. Now the BNP has lost nearly all of its councillors, it has effectively collapsed, and the anti-Muslim Right has been reduced from political office to a street rabble.

This is misleading and dishonest. Kennite claims the far-right’s strength has diminished  because of the EDL’s increased profile and the decline in the BNP’s fortunes. It wasn’t that long ago when the Daily Star openly encouraged the EDL to organize itself as  a political party.  But  Gilligoon also tries to put some distance between himself and his fans from the EDL.  But it’s all for show. His thinking is muddled, he doesn’t know whether he wants to offer praise to the EDL or condemn them.

Over the past decade, half a dozen or so white British Right-wingers have been convicted of possessing explosives and other weapons. But all were loners not acting in concert with any group. Breivik appears, for now, to be the same. Links to a global fascist conspiracy have so far proved elusive.

No one has ever suggested that there was a “global fascist conspiracy” but there are plenty of neo-Nazi, fascist and openly racist parties on the continent and some of them are in government. Italy’s MSI party, for example, is in coalition with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Belgium’s Vlaams Belang is gaining support and Geert Wilders PVV has 24 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives. Should we just ignore them? Gilligoon doesn’t say as much but that’s the message that Nowhere Towers is receiving. It’s almost as if the 1930’s never happened. Then, Jews were being scapegoated for the social and economic problems in many European nations, including Britain. The lessons of the past clearly have not been learnt and now, we have a situation where some lazy journalists happily and irresponsibly churn out scare story after scare story abut “Islamic extremists” and “Muslim terrorists”. Gilligan thinks he’s found a rich seam of stories, but he’s extracted them from a fool’s goldmine.

Kennite popped out two blog posts yesterday. This one tells us that “East London Mosque has bagged itself a Bishop”. Notice how he suggests that Tower Hamlets is some sort of nest of vipers.

The Islamists of East London, led by their flagship the East London Mosque, have been loudly condemning a proposed march by the English Defence League through Tower Hamlets on September 3. Actually, of course, they are thrilled.

Pray, tell us Kennite, why are they thrilled?

The EDL is wrong in so many ways – look at this video for how one of its previous marches, in Leicester, ended – but not least because they hand their supposed enemies, Muslim radicals, the perfect way to build support and legitimacy. The Islamists’ attempts to blame the EDL for the Norway massacre are perhaps a bit of a stretch – but who could dispute that the EDL are a racist rabble? Who could possibly object to campaigning against them?

That’s a bit of a stretch. Once again, he’s seems to be spending a lot of time on Mars. Did he not hear that Breivik had met and marched with the EDL as recently as March of this year?

The mosque has duly placed itself at the head of a campaign to resist the march – called, with beautiful irony, “One Tower Hamlets – No Place for Hate.” I think they must mean “No Place for Hate – Apart From The East London Mosque.”

He doesn’t miss an opportunity to take a cheap swipe at his opponent, does he? Say, wasn’t this blog supposed to be about a “bishop” being “bagged”? Not until the fourth paragraph from the end is the bishop in question actually mentioned. On the way, we are treated to the usual piss and vinegar about Ken Livingstone.

And there are those Ken Livingstone/ Lee Jasper creations, One Society Many Cultures and Unite Against Fascism (Jasper’s typically measured intervention in the Norway killings story yesterday was to compare Boris Johnson to Anders Behring Breivik.)

So who is this “bishop”?

The new bishop of Stepney, Rt Rev Adrian Newman, will speak at a “No Place for Hate” pre-rally at the East London Mosque on Friday, his first public engagement since taking office.

So what’s bugging you, Kennite?

The Bishop is the mosque’s most important recruit so far to what appears to be its new strategy of legitimisation. After they were thoroughly exposed by this newspaper and Channel 4, the mosque and IFE have realised that they can no longer simply rely on lies and empty threats of legal action to see off their critics.

This reeks of paranoia. He even manages to get in a pre-emptive threat.

I say the Church is untainted – but if it starts mixing with people like Azad Ali that won’t last long. There are plenty of far more representative Muslim groups to work with.

I thought you hated all Muslim groups. Aren’t they all “extremists”?

By all means protest against racism, bishop. But don’t do it through the East London Mosque – you’re in danger of making yourself look ridiculous.

Not half as ridiculous as you look, Andy baby.

UPDATE: 19/3/12

It seems that Bob Lambert is another former police spy.

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Localis and Policy Exchange – two think-tanks and one mission

I first became aware of Localis when I encountered this report written by the Dear Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council,  Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh and his wingman-in-letters, John Moss. After following the trail from the report to the website, it became patently obvious that this was another right wing think-tank churning out counter-factual reports and chunks of ideologically-slanted research under a nominal cloak of independence.

It’s a game.

Localis, like other think-tanks of its kind, have to compete with like-minded groups of researchers who rival one another to catch the eye of a minister or two. They want to influence the direction of both the party and government.  Sometimes they exist to perform cosmetic surgery on the face of the party. They’re often formed by serving MPs and it is within these think-tanks that they groom the next generation of  the dominant political caste. These are literally the factories of false consciousness.

But it’s a market out there.

Localis is a brand name. It’s as if its founders, who were probably stumped for a name and just lopped the “m” off “Localism” or the “t” off “Localist”. There, that was simple, it even looks like a word from a dead language that only Old Etonians would know! Like it’s part of your “Grecian”. It’s ‘our’ little secret. But it isn’t. It’s like the name “Consignia”. Remember that?  It was dreamt up by the Royal Mail as its new brand name – just add “ia” to the word “Consign”. Piece of piss.   They thought it sounded like a real word but it meant nothing. The public knew it meant nothing.  The name was dropped. Localis have no such problem. Most people don’t even know who they are or what they do. But this is to the advantage of think-tanks. The media can call upon them as ‘experts’ to dispense large helpings of ‘blue-sky’ thinking and ‘common sense’. If you aren’t aware of them, they can appear to be reasonable…

It’s all a mirage.

Face it, you’re being conned.

Localis say they are

dedicated to issues related to local government and localism. Since our formation we have produced research on a variety of issues including housing, the reform of regional government, innovation in services and local government finance.

That’s all right, then… or is it?

Localis was set up in 2001 by Lord Hanningfield, Colin Barrow and Paul Bettison. Hang on… Rewind…  Stop. Lord Hanningfield? Wasn’t he recently sentenced to prison for claiming nearly £14,000 worth of parliamentary expenses? Yes, he was. He was also the leader of Essex County Council from 2001 to 2010 when he, er, resigned. Apparently there are also serious questions over his use of the Council credit card. By the way, his real name is Paul White and he used to be a pig farmer. Well, you know what they say about snouts and troughs…  nudge, nudge.  According to the Localis website, Hanningfield White is still a director. It’s going to be a little difficult to work as a director of a think-tank from a prison cell. No ?

Radix malorum est cupiditas.

That’s from a real dead language.

Latin.

It means “greed is the root of all evil”.

Localis and Policy Exchange have something in common. They share board members. For example, Nick Boles and Neil O’Brien are members of both think-tanks. One could argue that in the case of Localis and Policy Exchange that “one hand washes the other”. They are, for all intents and purposes, the same think-tank with two different names. This probably means that they conduct their ‘research’ in the same slipshod fashion. In 2008, Policy Exchange published a report titled  Cities Unlimited in which its authors recommended that northern industrial towns and cities be abandoned and their inhabitants moved south to take up jobs (that did not exist). It’s one-dimensional thinking of the worst kind: it assumes that people can simply uproot themselves from their communities and transplant themselves into the Oxfordshire countryside.  In 2007 Policy Exchange’s report, The Hijacking of British Islam was revealed by Newsnight to had been based on fabricated evidence. Policy Exchange took umbrage and threatened to sue Newsnight’s editor, Peter Barron but later withdrew its threat. I wonder why? Could be because their evidence was actually made up? This raises questions about the work of Localis.

When all else fails, make it up.

Localis’s best known report was written by Greenhalgh and Moss and titled Principles for Social Housing Reform. The word “reform” should set off alarm bells because it always means “cuts”. The report appears to have been based on nothing more than broad brush assumptions and ritualized class prejudice. Moreover, at no point in the report is  proper research even mentioned. On Page 62 of the report, the authors claimed to have been “peer-reviewed”. The first ‘peer’ to review the report is Philip Callan of the estate agent Savill. Wandsworth Council’s Edward Lister also chips in with his ‘peer review’ but these reviews are not academically rigorous and are arranged to suit the ‘thesis’ put forward by the authors, who believe that social housing is “welfare housing”. The ‘report’ calls for the abolition of Housing Benefit. It also demands that local authorities be freed from the responsibility of housing homeless people in their areas. This already happens in Hammersmith and Fulham where shelters have been closed and the homeless have been displaced elsewhere. Last year, a homeless, pregnant woman was forced to sleep on benches in the borough because the coucnil refused to house her.

The Ombudsman said the standard of record-keeping by housing officers in the case “was so poor that it hindered the Ombudsman’s investigation of the complaint and fell so far below acceptable standards that it amounts to maladministration”.

He added: “It has not been possible to resolve some conflicts of evidence because of the absence of detailed contemporaneous notes recording housing officers’ contact with Ms Kenza, voluntary caseworkers and other professionals.”

Redmond said the council had applied too strict a test when deciding whether to provide Ms Kenza with temporary accommodation “by insisting she provide proof of homelessness first”. It also failed to follow its own procedures for referring victims of domestic violence to a specialist domestic violence housing advocate. Liaison between officers in different departments of the council was also labelled “ineffective”.

Priorities?

A borough for the rich.

Localis is well-supported by the Tories in Hammersmith and Fulham. On Conservative Home, Foghorn Phibbs wrote,

The paper is more outlining a general approach than offering a shopping list of examples. But it suggests that swimming pools, libraries and other oublic amenities could often be provided “more effectively by businesses, charities, social providers or a combination of providers.” Rather than the lazy assumption that they have to be the service provider themselves the Council should see itself as becoming “a commissioning and procurement hub.” Sometimes a service that it “identified as marginally beneficial” should not be provided at all – whether by the Council directly or by the Council paying someone to provide it.

On the same site, Localis tells us that the coalition has adopted many of their policies. One of which is to end council tenancies for life and treat those homes solely as housing for the poor. It would seem that Localis, like many of their supporters at Hammersmith and Fulham and in government, are about to create the very thing they want to abolish: namely ‘ghettoes for the poor’.

Localis’s website has a rather amusing Testimonials page. All the testimony comes from those who either work for Localis or those who have written reports for them. Here is three of them,

“Localis is not afraid of nurturing the big ideas that lead to radical reform”

(Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham).

“Localis is a driving force for change within the localist agenda. Their research is innovative and thought provoking”

(Eric Pickles MP, Conservative Party Chairman)

“Localis is moving from strength to strength with their ambitious project”

(Merrick Cockell, Leader of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)

These aren’t testimonials in the accepted sense of the word. This is praise-song and it all comes from people who are either board members of Localis or who are otherwise associated with it.

Far from being independent, Localis and Policy Exchange are very close to the Conservative Party.  Both think-tanks are separate for the sake of convenience: Policy Exchange is a registered charity and Localis is not but money flows from Policy Exchange into Localis’s coffers. Colin Barrow, who sits on the board of both think-tanks, donates large sums of money to both. He can afford to, he’s a millionaire.

This is the rationale of Localis and Policy Exchange: to find ways to justify and rationalise the selfishness and cupidity that lies at the heart of Tory thinking.

UPDATE 3/10/11 @ 1221

I’ve noticed that Localis has added more “testimonials” to its Testimonials Page and just to make it look as though it isn’t Tory-led and funded, it’s included Richard Kemp who it describes as a “former Liberal Democrat LGA group leader”.

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Hammersmith & Fulham: regeneration blues

This week I heard that Hammersmith & Fulham  Council approved a £15m exclusivity deal with CapCo,  whose bid to ‘regenerate’  West Kensington and Earl’s Court has faced enormous local opposition. Shepherds Bush blog reports that the Council had bussed in supporters to give the impression that most residents supported their plans.

But the real story of the night, as I predicted here, was their use of our money to bus in and co-ordinate a small group of residents who themselves seemed very confused about why they were there.

So council tax money was used to pervert the democratic process? Am I reading this correctly? This reminds me of a US right wing organisation called Protest Warrior, who specialise in disrupting anti-war demonstrations and who also act as agents provocateurs.  However it appears that those pro-Council protesters weren’t actually aware of what they were involved in. The Lib Dems Paul Kennedy is quoted to have said,

the small group of pro-development campaigners in white “Yes to the Future” T-shirts seemed confused: “Several of them told us they were campaigning to save their homes, so we thought for a while they must be campaigning against the development. They didn’t seem to realise that they were being used for propaganda by the Council and developers who want to demolish their homes.”

This kind of manipulation is reminiscent of the tactics used by authoritarian regimes to give an impression of consensus.

I found this on the H&F Conservatives blog, the misleadingly titled “Residents First”

This year Edward Glaeser has come out with a brilliant book called “Triumph of the City” which shows how cities are the engines of the economy, innovation and social mobility. Glaeser argues that urban density is far more preferable to suburban sprawl and that cities need to grow: “Urban density provides the clearest path from poverty to prosperity…..Growth keeps space affordable and ensures that people on low incomes and less profitable firms can stay which helps cities remain successful and diverse.” So we are going for growth in our 3 opportunity areas. London’s economic heart is clearly the two cities of Westminster and London and its lung to the east is currently being built along the Thames Gateway. We want to create a second lung to the west along the West London Line:

–          Earls Court: 7,500 new homes, 8,000 new jobs and brand new homes for all the residents on our two estates

–          White City: 4,500 new homes and 10,000 new jobs

–          Old Oak: 10,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs

First, and this is stating the obvious, in advanced industrial economies, cities are always “engines of the economy”. But the author seems to feel that this is some kind of earth-shattering statement; an original idea. Second, I have some concerns about these “jobs” that they are talking about. What kind of jobs will be on offer? I suspect that the jobs that the council is talking about are low-waged service sector jobs. As for homes, these will be of the ‘mixed’ variety. In other words, most of them will be for sale and a small proportion will be let at market rents.

The Council is also at odds with the faux libertarianism that underpins Cameron’s much-vaunted Big Society figment. This is from Inside Housing

The backdoor move by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to try and use its political connections with Ministers to get the Government to deprive us of our legal Right to Transfer is, we believe, an abortive abuse of power. Were it to succeed, it would not only emasculate S34A, it would expose the Big Society and Localism as unfair – fine for wealthier communities in rural areas, yet denied to poorer communities in urban areas. Worse still, it would preserve the untrammelled power of the local state to ride roughshod over local communities, exposing the Localism Bill as a fig leaf for all that’s gone before.

This leads me neatly on to Greenhalgh’s connections to the government. Having been to Cambridge with many members of the current government, and being a close chum of  London mayor Emperor Boris Johnson,  Greenhalgh believes that he has the power to influence ministers decisions. In a speech he made in 2009, he said,

‘My mates are all in the shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those [ministerial] boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university with them, they haven’t run a piss-up in a brewery’

On this occasion he wasn’t being kind to his fellow Tories. This blog tells us how he tried to enlist the help of the government in scuppering the plans of West Ken and Gibbs Green residents dreams of a stock transfer.  He wrote this to the Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark.

“The new power still appears to place too much emphasis on the ability of existing tenants’ groups to manage a stock transfer and too little on whether such a transfer is better for the whole community in the longer term… Although you indicate that representations can be made, the burden of argument still falls on the council bringing uncertainty for potential development partners and unnecessary delay. Instead of this we need a clear statement in the regulations that stock transfer to existing tenants would not be approved in regeneration and opportunity areas”.

To close he added his own hand-penned coda: “PS. I really need your help on this!”

The very thing that the government seeks to promote – the empowerment of local groups and communities – is being systematically undermined for political purposes, namely the demographic realignment of certain wards in the borough. However, it doesn’t appear as though Clark is going to give in. His reply,

When considering a transfer the secretary of state will take account of all relevant considerations, which would include regeneration schemes for the wider area, and these considerations would have to be looked at in the context of the proposed transfer.

Far from being democratic, the Tory group on the council is trying to find the means – any means –  to circumvent the democratic process. If this means hiring a team of actors in clown costumes to pretend they are local residents, then they will probably do that too.  Nothing this bunch does would surprise me.

You can read the full text of Greenhalgh’s letter to Greg Clark here.

The poster that was produced by the Council can be seen here. What I find interesting about the poster is the way the word “Yes” appears to be handwritten.

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Life On Gilligan’s Island (Part 29)

After a long break, this series is back thanks to the News International phone hacking scandal.  Even though I haven’t been able to blog much over the last couple of months, I’ve kept abreast of what our dear friend, Andrew Gilligan (aka Kennite) has been up to.

Looking at a list of his blogs, we can see that most of them are about  Ken Livingstone. Some things never change.  Gilligoon has been quick to label Livingstone as a stooge of Murdoch but it’s a desperate ploy that smacks of a deep-seated bitterness. More importantly, it’s a hatchet job on behalf of Boris Johnson in the run up to next years’ mayoral election.  Naturally, in his rush to throw a punch in Livingstone’s direction,  Gilly misses the blatantly obvious: Johnson is up to his neck in this scandal – more so than Ken.  Last week, the Guardian reported that Johnson had refused to apologise over police complicity in the scandal.

Boris Johnson has given his backing to beleaguered Met assistant commissioner John Yates, and has refused to apologise over his own previous insistence that he was “completely satisfied” with the 2009 decision not to open a fresh police investigation into what he described then as politically motivated “codswallop”.

Bojo makes light of police corruption and all Gilligoon can do is ignore it to have a swipe at Livingstone.

In today’s blog, The Gillster claims that Livingstone got “duffed up” on Newsnight. Odd, I watched the same programme and I didn’t get the feeling that Livingstone had been “duffed up”. I thought he gave a good account of himself. Sure, he wrote for the The Sun but so do many other politicians. What I noticed was Cameron’s chum, Nick Boles (a former Chief of Staff to Johnson) making a complete pillock of himself. But let’s look at the facts, two senior police officers have resigned in the space of a little under 24 hours.  Sir Paul Stephenson was Emperor Boris’s first choice for the role of Metropolitan Police Commissioner after he’d found a way to remove the previous Met chief, Sir Ian Blair. When Johnson appeared with his deputy, Kit Malthouse (looking well-fed, as usual), to answer questions about the scandal, he looked nervous and uncomfortable… as if the net was about to close in on him. Still, no mention of this from Gilly. Instead he says,

Not a single paper, not even the Guardian, has taken up Ken’s attacks – with the obvious and inevitable exception of Livingstone’s personal echo, Dave Hill. I thought the days when journalists were in powerful men’s pockets had just come to an end, Dave!

Pure bitchiness. Fact: Dave Hill is not a fan of Ken Livingstone and I think if anyone has been reading Hill’s blogs over the course of the last few years, anyone can see that. What Kennite doesn’t like is the way in which Hill outed him for serial sockpuppeting – something that he still does. He’s even popped up on this blog, claiming to be someone else. Here’s what Hill has to say about Johnson and his involvement in the scandal.

Hill also wrote this article in Saturday’s Cif section. Here’s a snippet,

That may not be a smoking gun, but it reveals a second motive for him having had a hands-off approach to the hacking affair since becoming mayor in 2008. The first is his continuing and very obvious political interest in keeping on News International’s right side as he seeks re-election next year. Only last month he joined Sebastian Coe in making a presentation to the News International board about the London Olympics. Four days later the Sun published an article by him attacking Ken Clarke’s proposals for so-called “soft justice”.

A London mayor’s relationship with the Met is constitutionally imprecise, but if he wants something done he’s in a good position to demand it. Until the last week forced his hand, Johnson has done the opposite over phone hacking. If Yates or even Stephenson end up walking the plank, it is likely to be the home secretary who shoves them out over the waves – but for Johnson the awkward questions would continue.

Livingstone is milking his discomfort. His past connections with News International have been flung at him by Johnson’s friends, but he seems happy playing the percentages: Boris is taking a much bigger hit. Meanwhile, the Tory mayor who came to power pledging to take “personal responsibility” for tackling criminality has policing woes at street level, too.

Adam Bienkov’s blog reminds us of what Bojo really thought of the phone hacking scandal. Bienkov links to an article that Johnson wrote for the Telegraph in April.

Oh come off it. This is starting to get silly. First it was the Royal family, then it was Gordon Brown and Sienna Miller. Now we are told that there are literally hundreds of people who have been bugged by the News of the World. It’s getting to the stage where it looks embarrassing for any self-respecting celebrity that they haven’t been taped or hacked or somehow illicitly probed by the gentlemen of the Screws. Across London, actors and slebs are ringing up their agents in a quivering fury.

Yeah, life is all one big joke to Emperor Boris and this is the man whom Kennite supports in his bid for a second term as London’s mayor?  Years before he was elected, Johnson wrote of “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles”.  He was forced to apologise.

Finally, Kennite never came clean about his sockpuppeting. Here’s a video titled “Andrew Gilligan – Ailing Standards”. Enjoy!

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McCarthy – We Are All Bourgeois Now

This is the original version of a song that was covered by the Manic Street Preachers on their album, Lipstick Traces. McCarthy were a very under-rated indie band from Barking. They were active between 1985 and 1990.

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Murdoch: hoist by his own petard or playing a long game?

My work took me much longer to finish than I expected, hence the long gap between blogs. A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks. Events in the phone hacking scandal have moved very quickly: no sooner than we hear of one revelation, another comes along within hours to take its place. Needless to say, Murdoch’s minions have overstepped the mark and acted criminally. Phone taps normally require a court order. The News of the World thought that it was above the law. It wasn’t.  Now the rest of News International and its parent company, News Corporation are under suspicion. The Sun and The Times have both been accused of phone hacking and in the US, it was believed that one of the News Corp companies hacked into the phones of those killed in the Twin Towers attack of September 11, 2001.

The News of the World is no more. No doubt it will be replaced by something just as vile. In many respects The Sun and the News of the World are the same paper. They both print the same kind of gossip and sleazy scandal and both papers believe that they have the right to intrude into people’s private lives.

I had originally begun drafting a blog a couple of weeks ago. My angle on this was the city of Liverpool and how The Sun and NotW had been boycotted by Scousers. The people of Liverpool have known for a long time what News International is capable of doing.  In the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, The Sun made up a story about Liverpool supporters urinating on the dead. Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of the paper, refused to apologize and even went so far as to rub more salt into the wound by standing by the ‘story’. To this day, the sales of The Sun and The News of the World on Merseyside are the lowest anywhere in the country. No self-respecting Scouser, red or blue, would contemplate buying such a vile rag.

Many of us have known for some time that Murdoch media and the government enjoy a close relationship. When Cameron hired Andy Coulson as his press secretary, Coulson was already up to his neck in shit.  But what we have seen is that the relationship between the Tories and the Murdoch media is somewhat closer than a mere business arrangement; these people meet socially. Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and Coulson have  broken bread together. Indeed Cameron, Coulson and Brooks live rather close to each other.  They are even referred to as the “Chipping Norton Set”.

The Murdoch press may not be able to inject its views into the heads of its readers but it is an opinion former and its views are taken seriously by many people. British politicians work to please the Murdoch press and will do their utmost to avoid upsetting papers like the The Sun, a paper that can ruin lives and careers at the drop of a hat.

In 1992, The Sun claimed to have won the general election for John Major’s Tories. The day before the polls opened, the Scum ran a front page that said “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave in Britain turn off the lights”. Labour lost the election but in the years that followed the Tories were battling allegations of sleaze.

Before the 1997 General Election, Tony Blair met with executives from News International. He understood that he needed to get the Murdoch media on his side in order to win. But it was a poisoned chalice, the Blair and the Brown governments found themselves dancing to Murdoch’s tune.

Yesterday, Murdoch had full page apologies printed in his papers and those of his rivals.  He’s done it again today. I suspect that his lawyers have advised him to do this, so that he can come back in a year’s time with a renewed bid for BSkyB. All he’s doing is trying to remake his image and that of his papers. As far as out politicians are concerned, they talk a good talk but they’re scared of Murdoch. They’ve done just enough to give the impression that they’re reining him in. Ed Miliband has called for a ban on multi-media ownership by a single person or group. This would be welcome. But the press cannot regulate itself properly. The Press Complaints Commission is run by the newspaper industry and membership  is not compulsory. The PCC does not have the power to sanction errant newspapers nor can it impose fines. All it can do is get the paper in question to print an apology, which is, more often than not, a single paragraph buried inside the newspaper.

I’ll leave you with this mindless drivel from LMer and professional shit-stirrer, Brendan O’Neill who blames the NotW’s demise on a “dictatorship of do-gooders”.

When small groups of professional activists help to shut down a newspaper read by millions of everyday Brits, that is not “people power”. When celebrities and well-to-do commentators help to deprive 7.5 million people of their Sunday read – and what’s more, claim to be doing it in order to save those 7.5 million people from being morally corrupted – that is not a “democratic moment”. It is more like a dictatorship of do-gooders.

Lest we forget that O’Neill’s former magazine, LM was shut down because it lost a libel case against ITN whom LM had accused of misrepresenting the Bosnian Civil War.   A “dictatorship of do-gooders” had nothing to do with the NotW’s demise; its death was caused by slipshod journalistic standards and blatant lawbreaking. I, for one, am glad it’s gone. I think that I should point out that O’Neill also writes for the Australian, a title owned by guess who?

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Maude exposed as Tory plan to smear the public sector founders

Francis Maude - a chip off the old Mekon block?

The government tried its damnedest to get the public on their side on Thursday. The carefully constructed enemy within – the public sector workers – was little more than a strawman. Some ministers went on the charm offensive: Gove popped up at a school that was still open (and no doubt staffed by scabs) and Francis Maude, the son of a man known as “The Mekon” was horribly exposed by Evan Davis, who is himself a scab of some standing. Maude tried desperately and repeatedly to ram home the point that the government’s plans for public sector pension ‘reforms’ were “fair”. He reiterated the lie that public sector workers enjoy “gold-plated” pensions (the majority of public sector pensions are worth little more than £3000) and that is was “unfair” for the taxpayer to pick up the bill.  First he claimed that the pensions were “unaffordable”, then he said they were “untenable”. Maude, not being in possession of a great deal of logic or intellect, managed to overlook the glaringly obvious: public sector workers are taxpayers too and none of them avoid tax…unlike many of Maude’s millionaire cabinet colleagues and Tory party donors. Incidentally, Maude’s personal wealth is estimated to be around £3m.

Yesterday, Telegraph blogger, Ed West produced an article with a title that looks as though  he found a few words lying about; crammed them into a pestle and mortar, mashed them up and smeared them paste-like onto the blog. Here, he treats us to a glimpse of his childhood.

I bitterly remember that in one year in the 1980s my teacher was almost alone in our school in not being a member of the NUT, and so when strikes occurred, which they seemed to do every week, our class had to traipse in while everyone else went to the park. So I just hope the kids who get a day off today appreciate it, and enjoy their time drinking cider or sending pornographic text messages to each other, or whatever kids get up to these days.

The strikers in one sense have a point; teaching is, in many ways, an underpaid job, not just in the sense that most work very hard for not very good pay, but also because a good teacher can have a hugely disproportionate effect on society compared to, say, a good plumber. A good headmaster even more so.

In terms of sensible investment a society can’t do much better than education spending.

On the other hand there are a lot of bad teachers around and, thanks to the strength of teaching union, their influence on a community can also be significant. These two issues – bad pay and virtual unsackability – are not unrelated.

So the upshot of this is that teachers who happen to be in unions are bad teachers? Lazy thinking.  As with the Hon Tobes and Katharine Burbling Thing, he attracts the usual spittle-laced rage of the Telegraph commenters, all of whom are unanimous in their condemnation of Thursday’s strike. This one is fairly typical,

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Give it 12 months and the left will hopefully be a spent force in this country and someone on the right will have the courage to step forward and bring this once great country back to normality.
“John Pierre”, eh?
Anyway, back to Maude. Yesterday, Mekon Jnr decided on a slight change of tack.  He suggested that public sector managers who have been made redundant can work for free.  Remember, this is the man who, when asked if he gives up his time freely to volunteer, said that the question was “unfair”.
 
Mekon Jnr has had a tough couple of days. The government tried and failed to convince the people that the public sector were parasitical and responsible for the budget/structural deficit (notice that I didn’t say “national debt” as is the wont of too many Tories and Lib Dems). I’m not a big fan of Polly Toynbee but she comes up with a couple of insights in this blog. Here’s a snippet,

This week the Tories tried to resurrect fears of the bad old 1970s – but it didn’t work. Cameron tried to paint Miliband as the creature of the unions that elected him: he sidestepped that trap and rightly castigated the government’s behaviour over the pensions issue. A bit of history may help: as far as I can discover, no Labour party has ever officially supported a strike, not the General Strike, nor any miners’ strike. Shirley Williams was pilloried for joining the Grunwick picket line which later turned violent, but it wasn’t Labour policy. Neil Kinnock was tormented for not backing the miners against Margaret Thatcher in 1984, or the six-month-long ambulance strike in 1989-90.

It’s both laughable and tragic that the Tories consider Ed Miliband to be a “creature of the unions” when it is quite clear that Milly Band did a “Kinnock” and declared the strike to be “wrong”. The Tories are so desperate to land a fatal blow on their opponents that they will come out with any old nonsense in the hope that someone is listening. But no one is….apart from the lunatic fringe that reads the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

In Britain, public support for strikes is split with many of those against strikes taking their views directly from the mouths of government ministers and the Tory-controlled press. In France and other countries (apart from the USA), there is much more solidarity; most people support striking workers. Why is this country so different?

Mekon Jnr has been quiet in the last 24 hours. Let’s hope it stays that way. Perhaps he’ll go the same way as Mekon Snr: he’ll resign and then be kicked upstairs to the Lords.

Finally, this picture from the Daily Mirror sums it up: Milly band is no friend of the unions, let alone a creature of them. The Tories are going to have to rethink their strategy of painting him “Red Ed”, bacause he looks more like a “Blue Ed” from where I’m standing.

Post script

From the Telegraph

  • Francis Maude, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, attempted to claim the mortgage interest on his family home in Sussex. This arrangement was rejected by the Fees Office. Two years later, Mr Maude bought a flat in London a few minutes walk from a house he already owned. He then rented out the other property and began claiming on the new flat: the taxpayer has since covered nearly £35,000 in mortgage interest payments.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics, Media, propaganda, Public spending