Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Wintour Of Discontent

In recent years, The Guardian, once presumed to be the paper of choice for Britain’s left, has shown itself to be just as antagonistic to the Labour Party and now, Jeremy Corbyn, as its right-wing counterparts on Fleet Street. Leading The Graun’s anti-Corbyn charge is the paper’s political editor, Patrick Wintour, who has been knocking out daily hatchet pieces since Corbyn announced his candidacy this summer. Wintour’s attacks on Corbyn have been relentless and often based on little more than a fingernail scraping of a story around which he constructs a massive edifice of guff, tittle-tattle and drivel.

Today, Wintour tells his readers:

Corbyn adviser ‘backed non-Labour candidates at least three times’

This headline relates to the ongoing hoo-ha over Corbyn’s appointment of Andrew Fisher as one of his advisers. Apparently, Fisher tweeted support for his local Class War candidate during the General Election rather than Emily Benn, the less-than-left-wing Labour candidate for Croydon South. So what?

Now I don’t know if Fisher was a member of the Labour Party when he sent these tweets, but was he not entitled to register his disgust with a party that was trapped in the misguided belief that emulating the Tories was the best way forward? I certainly did.

Fisher also called for Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes. Good. So do I. The real issue that Fleet Street’s hacks have with the appointment of Fisher and Seumas Milne is that they’re not Blairites or right-wing hacks. They are avowedly left-wing. I mean, was Corbyn supposed to hire Kelvin Mackenzie as his press secretary? Get real.

I spotted this inaccuracy in Wintour’s article.

In 2008, Fisher was reported as attending a Left Unity meeting as a member of the LRC, where he was reported as saying “a growing number of members believed that Labour was now dead”.

Left Unity didn’t exist in 2008 and only became a political party a little under two years ago. How do I know this? I’m a founding member.

Next time, Patrick, check your facts before going off half-cocked..

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Filed under Journalism, Media, The Guardian

The CSA Inquiry, The BBC And The Strange Case of Patrick Rock

In the last couple of weeks, the BBC and the Tory press have worked tirelessly to scupper the VIP child abuse story. In a recent edition of Panorama, the BBC poured cold water on the claims that the now deceased Leon Brittan was involved in child abuse or had raped a woman in 1967. Yesterday, Tory MP Nicholas Soames demanded that Tom Watson “apologise” for “traducing” Brittan’s good name. Watson rose to his feet in response and refused to issue an apology. Good for him. First, you can’t traduce or smear a dead person and second, Watson doesn’t need to apologise for anything.

The front page of today’s Daily Mail has this banner headline with the words “Labour’s child abuse witch hunt” in the opening paragraph. No agenda there. Right?

However, what is clear from these efforts is that the inquiry must be getting uncomfortably close to the Tories, so close that they’re now pulling out all the stops and getting their media chums to produce propaganda to counter any further accusations and smear the victims. The timing is also interesting for the fact that Harvey Proctor, a former Tory MP who’s so right-wing that he’d make a fascist blush with envy, recently appeared at a news conference to deny any allegations that he sexually abused children or witnessed any murders.

Now, before anyone reading this gets any ideas in their head that I’ve libelled Proctor, think on. I’ve done no such thing. Proctor was, however, a member of the notorious Monday Club. He apparently moved to purge the group of National Front members. So what?

Here’s the edition of Panorama in question.  The programme’s rationale is evident from the start: “It ain’t true”.

As Tom Pride observed yesterday, if Panorama’s team are so damned good at investigations, why did they fail to say anything about Jimmy Savile, who was working in the same building?

Let’s now turn to the case of Patrick Rock or to give him his full name, Patrick Robert John Rock de Besombes. Rock is the scion of an old Norman aristocratic family, a thwarted parliamentary candidate and was, until 18 months ago, a Downing Street aide. I say “was” because he was caught in possession of indecent images of children and appeared in court on those charges in July, 2014 and was bailed.  In December, 2014, Rock appeared at Southwark Crown Court and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Then it all went quiet.

I found this letter from someone called “P. Curran” to the Cabinet Office on the What Do They Know website that makes a Freedom of Information request. P. Curran writes:

Dear Cabinet Office,

I am seeking information on Patrick Rock, a former senior aide to
David Cameron, who appeared in court over child abuse images.

According to this Guardian report of Friday 19 December 2014 12.40
GMT, he was ‘ bailed to return to Southwark crown court for a
pre-trial hearing on 27 February 2015’:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/…

Since then there has been no news whatsoever. What has happened to
Mr. Rock please? Has he had his pre-trial hearing yet? And if so
where and when?

Yours faithfully,

Thankyou.

P. Curran

The letter was written on 2 June, 2015. If the pre-trial hearing took place, then there is no record of it. This begs the question: “why”?

A follow up letter appears on the same website, dated 17 June, 2015.

Dear Cabinet Office / FOI Team Mailbox,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Cabinet Office’s
handling of my FOI request ‘Trial of Patrick Rock’.

Many thanks for this reply, but if you read my original question,
this is not what I asked.

I asked: “What has happened to Mr. Rock please? Has he had his
pre-trial hearing yet? And if so where and when?

I did NOT ask whether the information was held on your paper or
electronic records.

I would also draw your attention to the following:

Guardian: Possible Cabinet Office cover up re: Cyril Smith child
abuse allegations:
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015…

Same story from the Mail:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-….
Indeed, from the article: “Downing Street cynically tried to
prevent the release of damaging files exposing the scale of the
cover-up over paedophile MP Cyril Smith.
The Cabinet Office repeatedly blocked The Mail on Sunday’s attempts
to see the bombshell documents – and caved in only after being
threatened with High Court action.”

Same story from Sky:
https://www.newstalk.com/Thatcher-knew-o….
From the story:
“He [Simon Danczuk] added: “(The Cabinet Office) have resisted
publishing these documents for over 12 months – that’s not
acceptable. They refused to tell the public who
nominated Cyril Smith for a knighthood. A journalist managed to get
that out of them after going to the Information Commissioner. It
was indeed David Steel.
And we now know they are resisting publishing at least four other
files relating to historic child sexual abuse. We have to ask the
question is the Cabinet Office fit for purpose?”

Private Eye story on Cabinet Office cover-up:
https://twitter.com/privateeyenews/statu…

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w…

So, given Mr Patrick Robert John Rock was deputy head of David
Cameron’s policy unit at the time of his arrest and has known him
since the late 1990s (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28054433 /
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics…),
I would be extremely grateful if you cold please tell me about the
trial / pre-trial hearings of Patrick Rock, supposedly held at
Southwark Crown Court , case number T20140498 (not whether the
information is stored on your paper or electronic records) .

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t…

Yours faithfully,

P. Curran

The exchange between P. Curran and the FOI team continues for the next few weeks until, finally, there’s a reply from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

REVIEW OF REQUEST UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
Cabinet Office Internal Review Reference: IR 321173
(Original Case Reference: Fol 321173)
Thank you for your email of 17 June 2015. You asked for an internal review of our response to
your request for information of 8 June 2015. In your request you asked for information about the
trial of Patrick Rock.
It may be helpful if I start by explaining that the Freedom of Information Act provides a right of
access, subject to exemptions, to information held in a recorded format by a public authority.
Public authorities are specifically scheduled under the Act and the Cabinet Office (including No1 O
Downing Street) is one of those scheduled authorities. Each government department and agency
is separately listed under the Act.
As such, the Cabinet Office can only respond in terms of information we hold in a recorded format.
I have reviewed your request and have concluded that the Cabinet Office does not hold any
recorded information, which would answer your question. I recognise your interest in this case but
I regret that we do not hold the information to be able to answer your question.
The substance of your request is a matter for the criminal justice system, which is outside the remit
of the Cabinet Office. The only advice and assistance I am able to offer is to suggest that you write
to the Crown Prosecution Service or Her Majesty’s Court Service. I should also explain that even if
they hold any information in a recorded format in scope of your request, one or more exemptions
under the Act might apply.
If you are unhappy with the handling of your request for information you, have the right to apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

It turns out that that Rock is due to appear in court in the next three days. However, there is nothing in papers about it, nor have the television news providers mentioned it.

Don’t you find that a little odd? I know I do.

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Filed under Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry

Tory Party Conference 2015: Some Thoughts

If anyone was ever in any doubt as to the Tories’ loathing of democracy, then they need look no further than this latest conference or, indeed, previous conferences. Speaker after speaker mounted the platform to address the conference, all of whom either syruped praise on their leadership or smeared their opponents. Policies are never openly debated or voted upon at Tory Party conferences. The unspoken dictum is, as ever, “we speak and you will listen”. The Conservative Party’s members have little or no say in how their party operates or how policies are decided. It is, for all intents and purposes, a dictatorship. Is it any wonder why Tory governments act to crush democracy in this country when there is so little of it within their own party?

This conference also showed us how far into themselves the Tories have retreated since Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the Labour Party leadership, and the hundreds of thousands who have joined the party since his victory. In contrast, the Conservatives are estimated to have less than 100,000 ageing members. So watching the Tory Party conference was, for me at least, a little like witnessing the last days of the Roman Empire. Degenerate and decadent, they can only look inward and indulge themselves in a little mutual masturbation for a bit of comfort. Indeed, it could be said that the security barrier surrounding the conference centre was the physical manifestation of their bunker mentality.

I would like to turn to the complaints made by the Tories and their allies in the media who have roundly castigated those who have thrown eggs at delegates. One commentator, Julia Hartley-Brewer made it her business to lead the charge against those ‘horrible lefties’ who “use violence (sic)” to get their point across. First, we don’t live in a democracy. That much is true. Second, people are angry and rightly so, and when they have no other means to vent their anger or disapproval, they will egg politicians or spit at them. Egging has been happening for decades. This point that was completely lost on Hartley-Brewer who, instead, went for the story which claimed people spat at delegates. First she claims in her Telegraph article.

The politics of spitting, just like the politics of abuse, are uniquely of the Left in Britain.

Cretinous bullshit. Interestingly, when someone took her to task over her generalisations, she shot back with “I don’t write the headlines”. Yet here’s a quote from her article that generalises the Left.  Someone’s telling porkies.

However, spitting is nothing compared to this government’s attacks on the poor, disabled and the low-waged. But then, Hartley-Brewer isn’t that concerned with the plight of this country’s disadvantaged. To her, they’re all layabouts and scroungers who need to “get off their backsides”.

Hartley-Brewer tweeted a link to her article, while juxtaposing it with a picture of the ‘young’ Tory who was egged.

So I decided to give her a history lesson.

I’ve yet to get a reply from Ms Hartley-Brewer. The best she can muster is silly schoolgirl style tittle-tattle which she believes to be serious political commentary. To cap it all, she writes:

Jeremy Corbyn may have disowned the spitters, but the trouble is that the spitters don’t disown Mr Corbyn. On the contrary, they hero worship him as their leader and saviour.

Now how’s that for lazy journalism? And she wonders why angry people spit at journalists? Have a word with yourself, Julia.

Speaking of silliness, Bozza’s speech was a mix of incoherent bluster and left-baiting jibes, which were largely based on a handful of familiar anti-left tropes: “Crusties and nose rings”. Yes, this is supposed to be a grown up man; a man who writes for the same paper as Hartley-Brewer, no less, and who moonlights as London mayor and works part-time as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Good work if you can get it. No?

Osborne’s speech was lauded as the greatest ever made by the Chancellor. Lobby hacks fell over themselves as they rushed to heap praise on his ‘vision’ and his apparent ‘cleverness’. I heard nothing in his speech but lies, spin and chicanery. His recruitment of Andrew Adonis to lead his National Infrastructure Commission was met with the predictable cheers from usual suspects on Fleet Street. Stephen Bush in The New Statesman described it as a “coup”, while most of the BBC’s political commentators claimed Osborne was “stealing Labour’s clothes”. However, what they all failed to tell their readers that, not only was Adonis a notorious Blairite, he was once a member of the SDP and the Lib Dems. His left credentials are entirely imagined. What they also failed to notice was how Osborne offered few ideas of his own.

David Cameron spent much of his speech attacking Jeremy Corbyn, even going so far as to take his words out of context, thus he claimed (falsely) that Corbyn was a “threat to national security” and characterised him as “terrorist supporting”. If I were Corbyn, I would be considering slapping Cameron with a suit for defamation. Here’s his speech in its entirety… if you can stomach it. Personally, I’d rather eat a five pound bag of sugar and throw it up on my carpet.

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Filed under Conservative Party Conference 2015, Government & politics