Monthly Archives: November 2011

H&F Tories: they like a drink

H&F's Geoff Alltimes had a £7,000 send off at the taxpayer's expense

How can a public body spend over £7,000 on a booze up? The answer: easy, especially if the public body concerned is Hammersmith & Fulham Council.  The council recently spent £7,184 on a retirement party for its Chief Executive, Geoff Alltimes, who was also paid a whopping £300,000 per annum while he was on the council’s payroll. The Cowan Report also tells us that,

his annual pension is estimated to be £104,000 a year and he is also estimated to have received a tax free, lump sum payment of £270,000 as part of his leaving package.

Shepherds Bush blog tells us that Alltimes is

one of the most well-paid Local Authority Chief Executives in the United Kingdom.

Most council employees can expect to earn a fraction of what Alltimes earns and receive a pension that is worth much less.

Shepherds Bush blog has the full story here.

The Cowan Report also has the story here.

Do you remember this story?

The words “piss up” and “brewery” come to mind.

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Memo to Dissembling Dan and his rich chums

Today in the Torygraph, Dan Hannan has written some pure drivel about #OccupyLSX. Apparently he went down to St Pauls Cathedral to have a “chat” with the camp and to try and convince them that he is right and they were wrong (he’d tell you otherwise). Today he’s produced what he’s called his “Memo to the Occupy protesters: here are ten things we evil capitalists really think”.  Here’s what he says.

1. Free-marketeers resent the bank bailouts. This might seem obvious: we are, after all, opposed to state subsidies and nationalisations. Yet it often surprises commentators, who mistake our support for open competition and free trade for a belief in plutocracy. There is a world of difference between being pro-market and being pro-business. Sometimes, the two positions happen to coincide; often they don’t.

Well, that may be the case but it’s your version of capitalism that’s destroying us. By the way, there is no such thing as free trade.

2. What has happened since 2008 is not capitalism. In a capitalist system, bad banks would have been allowed to fail, their profitable operations bought by more efficient competitors. Shareholders, bondholders and some depositors would have lost money, but taxpayers would not have contributed a penny (see here).

Wrong, Dan, it is capitalism. You certainly can’t describe it as ‘socialism’.

 3. If you want the rich to pay more, create a flatter and simpler tax system. This is partly a question of closing loopholes (mansions put in company names to avoid stamp duty, capital gains tax exemption for non-doms etc). Mainly, though, it is a question of bringing the tax rate down to a level where evasion becomes pointless. As Art Laffer keeps telling anyone who’ll listen, it works every time. Between 1980 and 2007, the US cut taxes at all income levels. Result? The top one per cent went from paying 19.5 per cent of all taxes to 40 per cent. In Britain, since the top rate of income tax was lowered to 40 per cent in 1988, the share of income tax collected from the wealthiest percentile has risen from 14 to 27 per cent.

Simpler tax system? Yes. Progressive tax system? Yes. Flat tax? No, they only benefit the rich. The Poll Tax was a flat tax. Those on lower incomes had to pay the same amount of tax as those people drawing down 6 figure salaries. This is dishonesty but then, this is what I have come to expect from Dissembling Dan. Another thing that Dan doesn’t mention about Art Laffer and Reaganomics is that millions of Americans lost their jobs and many more suffered as a result of the new tax system. Far from reducing overall debt, Reagan actually managed to create more debt. As for “closing loopholes”, the Tories will make the right noises but will fail to act. They don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

4. Those of us who believe in small government are not motivated by the desire to make the rich richer. We’re really not. We are, in most cases, nowhere near having to pay top rate tax ourselves; our most eloquent champions over the years have been modestly-paid academics. We believe that economic freedom will enrich the country as a whole. Yes, the wealthy might become wealthier still, but we don’t see that as an argument against raising living standards for the majority.

The motivation behind the movement to create a “smaller” government is to protect the interests of capital, thereby making the rich richer. Night watchman governments will exist only to rubber stamp the diktats of corporate interests and to use force against those who act against those interests. Just have a look at Chile, then magnify that by 2.  By the way, Dan’s rich.

5. We are not against equality. We generally recognise the benefits in Scandinavian-style homogeneity: crime tends to be lower, people are less stressed etc. Our objection is not that egalitarianism is undesirable in itself, but that the policies required to enforce in involve a disproportionate loss of liberty and prosperity.

This is contradictory. Here, Dan says that he is not “against equality” but then ends by saying that egalitarianism will result in a ” disproportionate loss of liberty and prosperity”. What he doesn’t say is that he’s worried that his class – the ruling class – is scared of losing its privileges; the privileges that it assumed for itself as a result of exploiting others who are less privileged.

6. Nor, by the way, does state intervention seem to be an effective way to promote equality. On the most elemental indicators – height, calorie intake, infant mortality, literacy, longevity – Britain has been becoming a steadily more equal society since the calamity of 1066. It’s true that, around half a century ago, this approximation halted and, on some measures, went into reverse. There are competing theories as to why, but one thing is undeniable: the recent widening of the wealth gap has taken place at a time when the state controls a far greater share of national wealth than ever before.

Here, Dissembling Dan seems a bit confused. He’s mistaken his hat stand for a hat. Comparing the present day to 1066 is like comparing apples with oranges. When he says, “Britain has been becoming a steadily more equal society since the calamity of 1066″, I wouldn’t expect to be struggling under the same brutal feudal system that the Normans imposed on the country but, at the same time, the last vestiges of feudalism remain – particularly with regards to property and common ownership of the land. He could have easily said that “Britain has been becoming a steadily more equal society since 43” or since the so-called “Glorious Revolution”. Utter nonsense.

7. Let’s tackle the idea that being on the Left means being on the side of ordinary people, while being on the Right means defending privileged elites. It’s hard to think of a single tax, or a single regulation, that doesn’t end up privileging some vested interest at the expense of the general population. The reason governments keep growing is because of what economists call ‘dispersed costs and concentrated gains’: people are generally more aware the benefits we receive than of the taxes they pay

In this paragraph, he tries to deflect attention away from the way the right (the Tories) protect their interests through the use of legislative mechanisms. Not content with hammering the low and medium waged by demanding that they work more hours for less money, the Right also attacks their culture. There are many examples of this: The Six Acts, The Licensing Act (1737), The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Since the Tories came to power in 2010, they have moved swiftly to carve up the rest of the welfare state (in spite of having no mandate to do so). Top of their list is the NHS, an institution that is despised by our Dissembler-in-Chief and which they want to privatize. Remember this?

8. Capitalism, with all its imperfections, is the fairest scheme yet tried. In a system based on property rights and free contract, people succeed by providing an honest service to others. Bill Gates became rich by enriching hundreds of millions of us: I am typing these words using one of his programmes. He gained from the exchange (adding fractionally to his net worth), and so did I (adding to my convenience). In a state-run system, by contrast, third parties get to hand out the goodies.

This has come straight from Ayn Rand’s dead mouth. She said that capitalism was the “only moral system”. When Dan says that capitalism (or rather his variety of capitalism) is “the fairest scheme yet tried”, he does not mention other “schemes”. Doubtless, he has in mind the economic system of the USSR, which was not socialism at all but a bureaucratic form of capitalism. Furthermore, Bill Gates has not “enriched” me or anyone else. That’s bullshit. He enriched himself and then turned into a present-day Victorian philanthropist. Was it a sense of guilt on Gates’s part? Maybe. If it was guilt then some of this nation’s rich could do with a dose of that guilt and start paying higher taxes.

9. Talking of fairness, let’s remember that the word doesn’t belong to any faction. How about parity between public and private sector pay? How about being fair to our children, whom we have freighted with a debt unprecedented in peacetime? How about being fair to the boy who leaves school at 16 and starts paying taxes to subsidise the one who goes to university? How about being fair to the unemployed, whom firms cannot afford to hire because of the social protection enjoyed by existing employees?

What on earth is he talking about? Fairness “doesn’t belong to any faction”… what does that mean? Nothing. Here it would appear that he was running out of ideas to fill up his list of ten. These examples of ‘unfairness’ are nothing more than diversions. Riding in the slipstream of these thoughts are education vouchers and a two-tier health service.

10. Let’s not forget ethics, either. There is virtue in deciding to do the right thing, but there is no virtue in being compelled. Choosing to give your money to charity is meritorious; paying tax is morally neutral (seehere). Evidence suggests that, as taxes rise, and the state squeezes out civic society, people give less to good causes.

More Randian drivel. The subtext here is that charities won’t be able to do good works if we have a more egalitarian economic system.

Well, there you go, comrades. I don’t expect the tents outside St Paul’s to fold overnight. But perhaps we might at least engage honestly on some of these issues rather than talking past each other. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

I’m not your comrade and you have signally failed to engage honestly.

Hannan would claim that the occupiers don’t have any ideas or that they don’t have an argument. What Hannan isn’t going to do is listen and take on board ideas, especially if those ideas don’t intersect with his barmy brand of  neoliberalism. For him, a Randian world of unfettered capitalism and shrunken states is the path to ‘freedom’.  Yet, history shows us that when capitalism is unregulated it leads authoritarianism because the state acts only to protect the interests of the capitalists, many of whom enjoy exceptional privileges under the iron rule of the caudillo.

Dissembling Dan’s preferred version of capitalism has already been imposed on the people of  Chile and now his government want to complete the neoliberal project that was started under Thatcher.

Far from having no ideas, the Occupy movement has shown that it has more ideas than our current government (and Dan Hannan), who want more of the same.

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it

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Filed under Conservative Party, economic illiteracy, Economics, Government & politics, laissez faire capitalism, Late capitalism, neoliberalism, Spiv capitalism

Hammersmith & Fulham and the Tory money-go-round

It has the dubious distinction of being Private Eye’s Rotten Borough a record 13 times. But Hammersmith & Fulham Tories aren’t bothered; they revel in their bad guy role.

Recently a council property was sold at auction and was featured in BBC1’s awful Homes Under the Hammer. It was sold because the council claims that it didn’t have the money to refurbish it. But the money that it’s made on the sale will go where exactly? On council housing? No. This will become a second home for someone. Which reminds me, why would anyone want a second home in Hammersmith? It’s not Cornwall or Wales.

Shepherds Bush blog also has the story

I found this Telegraph article that appeared on 9 September 2011 about big construction companies funding the Conservative Party. The party has what it calls “donor clubs”  one of which is The Property Forum, which exists to bring together party bigwigs and property and construction moguls.

Mr Slade, who has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservatives individually and through Helical Bar, has claimed that the club plays a key role in shaping the party’s planning policy.

The Cowan Report also has the story.

Helical Bar, along with Grainger plc, are involved in the King Street development, which aims to transform the area around the Town Hall into a London version of Basingstoke.

Slade is also the Chairman of The Property Forum . Annual membership costs a mere £2,500, which presumably grants the donor access to a bag-carrier rather than a minister. Access to someone like that will doubtlessly cost more.

For key players within the property industry to meet senior Members of Parliament over breakfast, discuss current topics and learn about related issues.

I found this on the same page.

Unlike Labour, we are not funded by the Trade Unions. Instead, we rely on the generosity of our committed members. We want to build a broad network of donors, who pay regularly by direct debit which allows us to plan our campaigning activities with greater certainty.

Party Patrons will help us to campaign more effectively in a number of ways:

  • Transmitting our message right across the country to gain support – for the Conservative Party, there’s no such thing as a no-go area.
  • Encouraging existing Conservative voters to join the Party
  • Millions of people vote Conservative, but we want to attract more members who will champion our cause at local level.

This is shameless stuff. The Tories admit that they’re supported by unaccountable and undemocratic bodies which will then dictate policy to the party but, at the same time, attack Labour because of its links with the trade unions, which are democratically elected and accountable institutions – unlike millionaires and corporations.

Slade has been less than flattering about Housing Minister, Grant Shapps

 “He’s just a kid – why should he know what goes on in local authorities?”

Not only is Shapps “just a kid”, he’s a pretty dimwitted kid who regurgitates soundbites on command.

Slade also has a close relationship with Emperor Boris.

He is a close ally of Boris Johnson and donated £20,000 to his campaign to become Mayor of London.

He has previously claimed to have helped shape Mr Johnson’s plan to see 50,000 new affordable homes built in London.

Asked by a newspaper interviewer whether his donations were intended to influence the Mayor’s building policy, he reportedly said: “You do run the thin line of someone saying, ‘I’m only doing this to have access and influence’, but that was what politics was always about. It’s a little unfair, but there must be 20 per cent truth in it.”

“Affordable homes”? Those aren’t council houses, by the way.

Property Week carried this story in 2008.

Mike Slade, chief executive of Helical, said: ‘Despite the current market difficulties, this is an outstanding opportunity for a mixed use regeneration scheme in a borough close to home, where we enjoy other substantial interests.’

Yes, they “enjoy other substantial interests” in the borough. Might these interests have something to do with forcing people out of their homes under the pretense of making “improvements”? Remember this story from HF Conwatch?

Here’s the cabinet document relating to the disposal of Edith Summerskill House.

Nowhere Towers does not have any further information pertaining to the sale of Edith Summerskill House but we suspect that it will be sold to one of the council’s construction ‘partners’.

As we can see, the same companies that fund the Tory Party also do business with Cameron’s favourite asset-stripping council. There’s an old saying: “one had washes the other” and there is no better example if this than the connection between the construction industry and the Tory party.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics, Hammersmith & Fulham, London

Romney includes Nile Gardiner in his foreign policy team

Apparently GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, has included Moonie Nile Gardiner, in his foreign policy team. Quite what Gardiner has to offer in the sphere of international relations is anyone’s guess. Last month, The National Memo said this,

And then there is Nile Gardiner, a British national, ultra-conservative, and former Unification Church devotee, who is thinking deep thoughts about Europe for Romney. Gardiner once said that we would only discover why we had invaded Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, when records proving Saddam Hussein’s collaboration with Al Qaeda would fall into our hands. (Is he still waiting for that?)

Gardiner is something of a Jack D. Ripper figure who imagines that all sorts of enemies are lining up to poison our water and steal our women.

Gardiner’s world view, like that of Romney, is US-centric and thus cyclopean. Both of them inhabit a pre-Copernican world where the US is the centre of the universe.

According to Romney’s website, Gardiner is going to ‘advise’ him on Europe. That’s interesting, given the fact that Gardiner spends no time here nor does he seem to know much about the continent for which he has been given a brief.

Here’s Gardiner’s latest drivel, where he claims that the #OWS movement has been “defeated”. Of course what our Moonie friend completely ignores is the police brutality that forced the protesters from Zucchoti Park (of which he doubtlessly approves). He also seems to have ignored the fact that the protest is continuing.

Occupy Wall Street has been an act of desperation by the liberal Left, which now represents a small minority of Americans in terms of ideology. In many ways, OWS has been the antithesis of the Tea Party. It has failed to shape the political debate on Capitol Hill and has been driven by an anti-capitalist agenda that does not resonate with most Americans. In addition, while the Tea Party has been an unfailingly law-abiding movement, with tremendous respect for the police and the rule of law, Occupy Wall Street has descended into anarchy. In many ways, OWS is an anachronism, a wannabe 1960s-style protest movement in an America that has moved on. And it is above all a symbol of a Left in decline amidst an increasingly conservative nation that has had enough of the kind of big government, anti-free market policies the liberal protestors crave.

Smears and lies.  In the same blog, he claims that the Tea Party is the political force in the ascendancy. Nothing like objectivity, eh?

In marked contrast, conservatism has undergone a profound revival since Obama entered the Oval Office. As I’ve noted before, the Tea Party has been the most influential US political movement of the early 21st Century, fundamentally transforming the political landscape.

Funnily enough, the Tea Party seems to be in decline but Gardiner doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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Filed under Media, propaganda, Tea party, United States, United States, World, Yellow journalism

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 31)

Hammersmith & Fulham has featured in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” 14 times since the Tories took control of the council.  That, my friends, is a record. With the London mayoral elections only a few months away, Andrew Gilligan (known on this blog as Kennite or Gilly) is doing his bit to get the ineffectual buffoon, Boris Johnson re-elected by writing bilge like this,

I’ve been away doing the day job, so I’ve only just caught Ken’s latest  outburst. At a meeting in Hammersmith and Fulham earlier this week, Labour’s cuddly old charmer told one H&F councillor, Peter Graham, that if there was “any justice,” he and all his 30 Tory colleagues would “burn in hell and your flesh will be flayed [by] demons for all eternity.”

And so they should. But Kennite is on the side of H&F Tories, so you’ll have to forgive him if he doesn’t see things as clearly as those of us who live in the borough. I followed the link to Politics Home, which has this blog.

At a “Tell Ken” public meeting in Hammersmith on Monday, Livingstone’s attacked the council’s plans to redevelop the Earl’s Court estate. (The council insists all current tenants will get a new and better home, but Labour complains that people are being cleared out of the site in an attempt at social engineering.)

Livingstone compared H&F to Dame Shirley Porter’s illegal ‘gerrymandering’ reign in Westminster. He said:

“The big problem we’ve got here in this borough is that the majority party, I have to say, seems to be every bit as bad and corrupt as Westminster Council under Lady Porter. The law, of course, imposed a £48 million fine because she did exactly what this council is doing, forcing poor people out of homes.

“When Lady Porter was found guilty, I was still an MP and that night the former leader of Wandsworth Council, Christopher Chope*, passed me in the Commons and said, ‘Do you know, we did exactly the same thing in Wandsworth – we just weren’t that stupid to put it in writing.’

“I suspect this bunch of crooks running Hammersmith can’t have put it in writing, but they’re doing exactly what Porter did, cleansing working class people out of the borough when they are supposed to represent all classes, and everybody who lives in the borough.”

Livingstone is right. I live here. Kennite doesn’t.  The council has done all it can to enrich its developer friends  since it came to power 6 years ago. All Gilligoon can do is defend the council by smearing Ken.

The only demons here are those in Ken’s own head. And the only thing burning right now is surely his election campaign. It’s a meltdown, and it’s starting to feel almost unkind to talk about it.

A case of the pot calling the kettle black? Most certainly.

If Gilly bothered to do some homework, he would have noticed how H&F Tories decanted tenants from Edith Summerskill House on the pretext of refurbishing the block, only to sell off the block to developers some time later. That, Mr Gilligan, is crookedness. If there is a hell, may they burn in it along with you.

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Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, London, Media, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Local cycling campaigners invite Greenhalgh out for a ride

This is from the Fulham Chronicle,

CYCLING campaigners have invited the leader of H&F council to join them on a bike ride in the area’s most dangerous spots.

Hammersmith and Fulham Cyclists have called upon Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh to join them on a bike ride to highlight the dangers on the boroughs roads.

The route would cover Hammersmith Bridge, the gyratory, Shepherd’s Bush Green and Holland Park – the worst areas for cyclists.

Something tells me that Greenhalgh is unlikely to accept this offer. Why? Have you seen the size of his waistline?  He’s not the sort of person who looks as though he gets a lot of exercise. But that isn’t the only reason.  Like his chum at City Hall (who appointed him to the ‘Forensic Audit Panel’), Greenhalgh only sees the surface of things. In this respect he’s very much the postmodern politician. He is one who thinks that the superficial and a few well-placed dog-whistle words are enough to satisfy people’s people’s concerns.

Boris Johnson’s poorly planned and implemented Cycle Superhighways are routinely encroached by cars and heavier vehicles. In fact, someone was killed on CS2 last week. The Grumpy Cyclist has the story.

There’s no profit in cycle safety and people should have the right to kill themselves on the road without the ‘nanny state’ poking its nose in, therefore Greeno isn’t interested.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Filed under Cycling, Hammersmith & Fulham, London

The Telegraph, Ed West and the not-so-hidden discourses of the anti-immigration lobby

I came across this blog from Fred Ed West in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. West tells us that a petition has been launched against mass immigration.

Without wishing to plumb the depths of Arab Spring hyperbole (as pioneered by the protestors in “Tahrir Square”, central London), the Greek referendum could be heralded as the start of a European spring. (A bit late in the year, of course.)

Britain, too, is cottoning on to this amazing new thing called “democracy”. Following the first petition about Britain’s place in Europe, and the second, MigrationWatch have launched a petition on that related area of post-national universalism – mass immigration.

MigrationWatch, eh? Well, let’s have a look at them. According to Powerbase, MigrationWatchUK, to give them their proper name, claims to be an,

Independent, voluntary, non political body which is concerned about the present scale of immigration into the UK

Where have I heard those words before? Well, I usually encounter words like “independent” and “non-political” when I look at the websites of right-wing think-tanks like Policy Exchange and Localis. It’s a lie. Powerbase tells us that MigrationWatchUK’s co-founder David Coleman has close connections to the UK’s former European Trade Commissioner, Leon Britton and Baroness Caroline Cox who was ejected from the Tory Party for supporting UKIP. Coleman has also,

been described by the BNP as their “friend at the immigration-reform think tank Migration Watch” and “a very distinguished demographer whom we trust” [16]. Being praised by the BNP of course is not in itself an indication of his political objectives

Coleman is also connected to the Galton Society. Yes, the society is named after Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, the social Darwinist and eugenicist. The Galton Society is, as one would expect, concerned with the notion of  a pure gene pool- in other words only those ‘superior’  genes of the white British who are of a certain social class should be preserved. Ed West presumably fits into this category.

One of its members wrote the foreword for a book authored by an American Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke[4] who is the most prominent racist in America today and heads the largest white supremacist organization in the world.

Back to West’s blog. He tells that he has

 enormous respect for MigrationWatch, for the simple reason that as a political campaign opposing the last government’s mass immigration policy carries no social reward whatsoever. No one at a dinner party is going to congratulate you, no one is going to fictionalise your life as a romantic lead in a Richard Curtis-style comedy. In a world where so much political posturing is based on whether one’s views make the holder seem more high-status and more attractive to the opposite sex, few people dare express any opposition to the wonderful, but mysterious and unproven, benefits of diversity.

Here we find two things: the first is that West clearly supports the aims of the socially exclusive and possibly racist Migration Watch. Second, he reduces his argument to one of sexual attractiveness. Listen, Eddie, the only people who are going to find you or your racist friends attractive are those people who have had their eyes gouged out and even then, it’s quite a stretch to assume that someone who has been blinded would ever find you attractive – unless they were members of the KKK, of course.  If we look at the comments left on his blog, we can see that he’s playing to an all too familiar gallery of racists and eugenicists. This one from “Flatulent Emissions” has 102 likes.

Commenter's avatar
Limiting immigration is one thing, but we absolutely must seek to repatriate those who are a net burden to our economy who are already here.The costs and social difficulties will rocket once the wave of babies we’ve imported reaches adulthood, so something must be done before that time comes.
He isn’t the only one who holds these repellent views. “Emily Enso” says,

EmilyEnso

17 hours ago

Simples we pay them to go.
It would be cheaper to give them a lump payment to relocate than keep them here.
Not only that, we could cancel off our foreign aid payments.
By sending back people to their home nations with money for homes, businesses or whatever we would give those home nations a huge financial boost.
Paid for repatriation is a win win win.
Win for us.
Win for the home nation.
Win for people financially enabled to make a new life in the environment of their own people and culture.
I find it difficult for anyone to fault it.

This was the very same policy put forward first by the National Front in the 1970’s and later by the British National Party.

Ed West would never admit to being a racist and he would probably say that he has “Black friends” in an clichéd attempt to deflect attention away from his rather muddled and reprehensible views. For West, expelling immigrants is equated in his mind with ‘democracy’.

Now perhaps it is time that we might ask, in that shy, English way of ours, whether we might possibly be allowed a say in the running of our country, if it’s not too much to ask.

The phrase “having a say in the running of the [our] country” is code for “the only people who should run this country should be white British (well, English) and middle class”.

Here is Ed West’s profile on Powerbase.

He has connections with the LM network through his brother, Patrick and Brendan O’Neill’s Spiked Online.

You can find Migration WatchUK’s website here. Their “What You Say” page is a means of manufacturing consent and it isn’t entirely clear if those who have written to MigrationWatchUK are genuine or not. My suspicion is that some of them are hardened Little Englanders and lost Empire Loyalists. Some of the letters may well have been written by MigrationWatch staff.

Finally, Ed West is more than happy to entertain the racists who collect on his blog to pat him on the back. He would tell us that it’s ‘free speech’. I would tell him that he’s a dissembler.

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Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, Racism