Monthly Archives: October 2017

Nothing To See Here. Move Along, Please…

If you only took your news from television, radio or the right-wing press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Labour Party is uniquely violent, sexist and anti-Semitic, and the Tories are a party of fair-minded individuals, who stand up for the rights of oppressed minorities. That’s not only the image the political hacks want to give us, it’s a narrative that’s pushed out regularly and supported by a conspiracy of silence over the misdeeds of Tory MPs. But every now and again, a story comes along that disrupts that image. Today was one of those days and you could quite literally hear the wagons being hastily circled as the mainstream media outlets desperately attempted a damage limitation exercise on behalf of the Tories.

After the furore over Jared O’Mara’s sexist comments he made 15 years ago, and Clive Lewis’s use of the word ‘bitch’ in a conference event hosted by Novara Media, the Tories were quick out of the traps with their condemnations, with Nusrat Ghani demanding an “urgent debate” on the matter.  Here she is, claiming on Twitter that sexism and misogyny is “systemic” in the Labour Party.

Doesn’t she look the fool? She doesn’t think so, but then Tories have never been self-aware and as for thinking, they just don’t do it. Ghani herself says absolutely nothing about Boris Johnson’s numerous racist outbursts. But when it comes to racists in their own party, Tory MPs like Ghani are noticeably silent. The London-centric media is also silent and yet, the weakest accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are treated with great seriousness.

The BBC for its part, sourced the story from Guido Fawkes, a site with a less than unblemished reputation and whose founder, Paul Staines, a self-styled ‘libertarian’ has a love for tyrants. Indeed, as many people on Twitter pointed out, Guido has used the word ‘bitch’ not once, not twice but several times, and yet, the BBC and their allies in the Tory Party seemed, apparently, to be unaware of this. Can you imagine the BBC sourcing a story from The Canary or Evolve Politics? No, I can’t either.

This morning it was revealed that at least two Tory MPs have been accused of sexual harassment and sexism. But to see the Tories on today’s political programmes, you’d think nothing had happened. Isabel ‘Poison Ivy’ Oakeshott and Julia Hartley-Brewer, who appeared on The Andrew Marr Show and The Sunday Politics respectively, said in not so many words, “nothing to see here” and made excuses and yet, if these had been Labour MPs, they’d have been unrestrained in their condemnation and would have demanded the pair’s immediate dismissal.

Here’s Poison Ivy on Gove.

Here’s Hartley-Brewer attacking Bianca Jagger for daring to suggest that Poison Ivy apologized for “sex pests”.

No, Julia, she (Poison Ivy) didn’t have to directly apologize but she gave the impression, like you, that there was nothing to worry about.

In the tweet below, Hartley-Brewer suggests that stories of Tory sexual predators amounted to a “witch hunt”. Again, if Labour MPs had been involved, the words “witch hunt” wouldn’t appear and it would be taken as fait accompli that the MPs concerned were guilty of sexism and much else besides.

Hartley-Brewer’s position seems a little confused. This should come as no surprise, and if you’ve ever seen her on Question Time, she swings about in the wind, hoping to attract the maximum amount of applause from the audience for her ‘common sense’ views – muddled as they are. Hartley-Brewer only cares about one person: herself.

Changing the subject slightly, Hartley-Brewer, is rather fond of her schoolgirl jibes. For a supposedly ‘serious’ political commentator, she’s comes across as petty and immature. No wonder Westminster politics is in such a terrible mess when we have commentators behaving like school kids and politicians indulging in childish insults, while at the same time, infantilizing the voting public.

Here’s an example of her childish name-calling on today’s edition of The Sunday Politics.

The acrid stench of hypocrisy hangs over the pair of them, and their Tory pals.

We’re being poorly served by a weak government that has no policies, and a commentariat that thinks juvenile name-calling  and piss-poor opinion passes for serious journalism. Oh, how they squeal when those they defend are outed as sex pests.

As Corporal Jones often said in Dad’s Army: “They don’t like it up ’em”.

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The Daily Politics

Many of us already know the BBC’s attitude to the reporting of political stories is less than objective. The Daily Politics, the corporation’s flagship politics programme on BBC2 has long been the subject of a great deal of ire. Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, the overall tone of the programme has been increasingly anti-Labour but more specifically, anti-Corbyn. Any story that can be spun to cast Labour and Corbyn in a bad light is often seized upon with both hands.

Today was no different. The show’s host, Jo Coburn, pursued the Jared O’Mara sexism story not once but twice. First, she asked Nu Labourite, Chris Leslie, then she asked Dawn Butler. Why is that? Because it’s pretty obvious that The Daily Politics, far from being impartial, is at the forefront of a pro-Tory propaganda exercise in which any anti-Labour story, no matter how trivial, is promoted above any other. In this case, to make matters worse, Coburn even cited her source: Guido Fawkes. Really?

One important story The Daily Politics decided to ignore is this one in which Tory MP and whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, had written to university vice chancellors requesting they provide him with details of “the names of professors […] who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”.

 

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And yet, a story this important was completely ignored by The Daily Poltics? If a Labour or SNP MP had made a similar request, you can almost guarantee the story would have been covered on the programme.

This isn’t the first time that Heaton-Harris has been involved in controversy. Heaton-Harris, a self-styled ‘Eurosceptic’ was secretly filmed advocating support for James Delingpole’s anti-wind farm candidacy. The story appeared in The Guardian in 2012.

Chris Heaton-Harris, who is campaign manager for the Tories in Corby, was recorded saying he encouraged an anti-wind farm candidate to join the election race against the Tories, adding: “Please don’t tell anybody ever.”

The footage, covertly recorded by the environmental group Greenpeace, captures the MP saying the independent anti-wind farm candidate, James Delingpole, had announced his candidacy as part of a “plan” to “cause some hassle” and drive the wind issue up the political agenda.

He is also filmed claiming he helped Delingpole by providing him with “a handful of people who will sort him out”, including the deputy chairman of his own constituency party, who had stood down and then became the anti-wind candidate’s campaign agent.

Surely offering campaign advice and support for a candidate that isn’t in your party is a cause for having the whip withdrawn? For the Tories, not a bit of it. Delingpole’s views are shared by many Tories.

The Daily Politics, rather than report political news, takes an active role in making the news. Remember Stephen Doughty’s on air resignation?

Then there’s John Mann’s infamous ambushing of Ken Livingstone as he arrived at the BBC’s Westminster studio where The Daily Politics is produced.

The confrontation was repeated on the programme itself.

In August of this year, Open Democracy reported that Tory MP for Moray, Douglas Ross, made racist comments about travelling folk. The story wasn’t covered on the corporation’s television or radio news bulletins and appeared on the website only. Now, maybe that’s because The Daily Politics was off the air for the summer. However, if a Labour or SNP MP had made similar remarks, it would have been covered.

Scottish Tory councillors who made racist and sectarian comments were suspended and then quickly reinstated by the party. Still, not a peep about this from the Tories or the BBC.

The BBC’s website reported that Robert Davies, a Tory councillor on Stirling City Council, had left the party over his racist comments. Again, this wasn’t covered by The Daily Politics.

Robert Davies was one of two Tories who were suspended shortly after being elected to Stirling Council in May.

He had tweeted racist posts from a Twitter account in 2013 which was subsequently deleted.

However,

His colleague Alastair Majury, who was also suspended and then reinstated by the party, remains a Conservative councillor after making an apology to the council.

When Mr Davies and Mr Majury were reinstated by the Scottish Conservatives in August, the party insisted they had both offered “unreserved apologies for any offence caused”.

Contrast this with the calls to have Ken Livingstone expelled from the Labour Party. See the difference? Tories are given a slap on the wrist and then welcomed back with open arms, and their reputations are magically rehabilitated.

When a national broadcaster fails to report the really important stories and concentrates its efforts on smearing an opposition party, it is selling voters short. The Daily Politics is transparently biased in favour of the Tories. The programme’s editors may deny it, but the evidence is there for all to see.

Tim Fenton at Zelo Street has unearthed some interesting information on the Jared O’Mara story. You can read it here.

 

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Handing Jeremy Corbyn The Keys To Downing Street?

Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, one phrase that had been uttered every now and again, but which now features more frequently in the speech of hyperventilating Tory MPs on their tour of the nation’s TV and radio studios, is “Handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Downing Street”, or variations thereof. But what does that phrase really tell us about the Conservative Party?

First, it shows the Tories are scared of Corbyn’s Labour. This is in marked contrast to the language they first used when he became leader. Then, he was painted as a ‘disaster’, who would make it easy for them to rule with a massive majority for all eternity. How wrong they were, but even when they claimed Corbyn would consign their enemy – his party – to oblivion, they did so knowing that he posed a threat to their control of mainstream political discourse, but they lacked the self-awareness to realize it. Now, they have been rudely exposed as being weak, utterly devoid of ideas and bereft of all meaning. What do the Tories stand for? Smears? Lies? They don’t have any policies to speak of… well, not ones they didn’t steal from Labour first, and then dilute them according to taste.

Second, and more perhaps more importantly, their shrill repetition of the phrase reveals their over-riding sense of entitlement. Remember, the Tories see themselves as the ‘natural party of government’, a claim they wholly crafted from their own self-importance and sense of self-righteousness. The Tories are not and will never be democrats, and for all their talk of wanting a “strong opposition” these last couple of years, it’s actually the last thing they really wanted. In Corbyn they claimed to see weakness. They dismissed the massive influx of members to the Labour Party as unimportant. “After all” they opined, “members aren’t the electorate”. There was an obvious flaw in that line of thinking, but who were they kidding? Themselves. It turns out that members really do matter, because members  are out there in  the pubs, clubs, workplaces and on the street, talking to people and putting forward the party’s case. Tory activists, by contrast, are thin on the ground and efforts to attract younger members have gone from the embarrassing to the downright laughable.

When one looks back at the Tory conference just gone, one couldn’t help but notice that it had the appearance of a mausoleum and the overpowering smell of embalming fluid. What sort of person would be attracted to something like that? A cadaver?

This is a dead party walking.

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