Tag Archives: bullies

Ian Austin: Fraudulent Anti-Racist

The last few days haven’t been kind to the Tories’ election campaign and, as sure as night follows day, there was a manufactured distraction to divert the gaze away from their myriad problems. First, came Tom Watson standing down as a candidate for West Bromwich. Then this morning, rather predictably, came the next distraction in the shape of the extremely bitter fraud, Ian Austin. Indeed, in the figure of Austin the BBC et al believed they found the right man to scupper Labour’s election campaign. The trouble with Austin and the BBC is that he has a less than unblemished record when it comes to fighting racism. To put it bluntly, his anti-racism is selective. Worse, is that he’s said nothing about Boris Johnson’s racism nor has he commented on Priti Patel and Jacob Rees Mogg’s dog-whistle anti-Semitism. It’s as if, in his mind, those incidents never happened. For, if you were to believe him and the media, Labour is the single biggest reservoir of racism in the country. But it’s not any old racism we’re talking about here: it’s manufactured and weak allegations of anti-Semitism, which are treated with a greater degree of seriousness than other forms of racism and even actual incidents of anti-Semitism themselves.

Austin has previous form when it comes to racism and xenophobia. In 2013, he was forced to apologise for labelling a Palestinian human rights group ‘anti-Semitic’ and Holocaust deniers. When he was a minister under Gordon Brown, he was a vocal critic of ‘asylum seekers’ who are, by and large, people of colour. Indeed, in 2016, Birmingham Live, a local news site, carried a story in which Austin claimed, without any evidence, that there were “too many asylum seekers in the Black Country”. The site reported:

Rich and posh southerners have refused to take in asylum seekers – while Birmingham and the Black Country are taking in more than their fair share, an MP has claimed.

Black Country MP Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) told MPs that too many asylum seekers had been housed in the Midlands and North, and this could lead to worse public services including schools and hospitals.

And he insisted the Government must “learn from the mistakes they made in the past” when providing homes for new asylum seekers – including the 20,000 Syrian refugees whom David Cameron has announced the UK will take in.

Today, while touring the nation’s radio and television studios, Austin urged voters to support Boris Johnson. Leaving aside the fact that we don’t vote directly for Prime Ministers, Austin’s entreaty to the nation’s listeners and viewers smacked, not only of gross hypocrisy, but of tacit support for the Tories’ racist policies.

Austin was elected as Labour MP for Dudley South in 2005 and was elevated to the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown two years later. I’ve documented Brown’s selective anti-racism here. Remember, it was Brown who uttered the infamous phrase ‘British jobs for British workers’ Brown also demanded that the county became more patriotic, citing the United States as an example. In so doing, he encouraged the forces unleashed by Nu Labour’s 2005 general election campaign, in which the party sought to raise the stakes by producing anti-immigration rhetoric of its own in response to Michael Howard’s xenophobic and racist dog-whistling.

Austin may be the adopted son of British Jews, but I would argue that he uses it to shield to deflect criticism for his rampant xenophobia and his casual acceptance of other forms of racism, particularly from the Tory benches. In fact, if you’re Jewish and you disagree with Austin, you can expect to be abused, as Michael Rosen has found out not once, but twice.

Here’s a video clip which shows the exchange between bully boy Austin and Rosen. Austin looks and sounds thuggish.

In July, he was appointed as trade envoy to Israel by outgoing PM, Theresa May. If the Tories form the next government, then he will no doubt stay in that role.

A liar, a bully and a selective anti-racist, Ian Austin is nothing less than a fraud, who would happily sell out other minorities and those he deems to be the “wrong sort of Jew”.

Instead of asking serious questions of Austin’s motives and of his flaky anti-racism, the media treats him seriously, even deferentially. He’s no friend to people of colour. In fact, Twitter advanced search reveals that Austin hasn’t once tweeted about either Windrush or Hostile Environment. Now what does that tell you?

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The Great British Institution Of Bullying (Part 2)

When I wrote this blog about bullying in 2012, I always knew that some day I would have to revisit the subject. So it was that yesterday, on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, that Fleet Street’s bullies and their associated helpers, used the solemn occasion of Armistice Day to dig up the monstering of Michael Foot’s appearance at the Cenotaph in a smart-looking overcoat in November, 1981, which they dubbed a “donkey jacket”.

Here’s what Foot had to say about the bullying he endured.

Like many of this country’s political commentators, history for Andrew Pierce, began with the election of the Thatcher government in 1979. He tweeted this mush.

He was joined by the ever-juvenile, Julia Hartley-Brewer, whose puerile comments amount to little more than trolling.

The idea that the weather may have played a part in Corbyn’s sartorial choice yesterday has clearly escaped her. What matters more to Hartley-Brewer is turning up to a service of remembrance looking as if you’ve just stepped out of the pages of a Savile Row catalogue. The idea that one’s choice clothing is an indication of one’s level of respect is not only risibly childish, this notion is based on a superficialities, because in the postmodern mind, appearance is much more important than substance. As for Hartley-Brewer, she’s nothing but a school bully who never grew up.

Kevin McKeever, who I’ve never heard of, thought it was a “stunt” , but it’s his added claim that, somehow, he and the rest of the media’s bullies are above concocting narratives of ‘disrespect’ and ‘them and us’ that stands out. McKeever’s mini-bio says he’s the “Founder of political consultancy, Lowick”. In other words, he’s a public relations hack.  In fact, his biography on Lowick’s website states:

He has experience of working on political and reputation campaigns in the US, EU and Middle East.

Politically active, he stood for election to the UK Parliament at the 2015 and 2017 General Elections.

Interestingly, it doesn’t say which party, but The Cat has discovered that he was the Labour candidate for Northampton South and is critical of Corbyn.  McKeever also worked for the disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger and was head of property and planning at Portland PR.

Such is the lack of self-awareness that McKeever projects his and his fellow hacks value-judgements onto Corbyn’s sensible choice of overclothes. Naturally, I put him straight.

Here, the editorial team decided to use colour filters to make Corbyn’s raincoat look a sort of light blue rather than black. The use of digital technology to create a narrative of ‘disrespect’ is one that the media has to own, rather than deny. We’re not as stupid as they think we are. This isn’t 1981, when they could get away with such tricks, the year is 2018.

Right-wing shock jock, Jon Gaunt, followed suit with this unoriginal take.

Appearing at the Cenotaph to pay one’s respects to those who died in wars prosecuted by halfwitted short-sighted politicians – the kind of politicians whom the likes of Hartley-Brewer would no doubt rally behind – wasn’t enough for Gaunt. Apparently, you’re supposed to turn up in the latest designer gear from Bond Street, as Harry Paterson noted in this tweet.

Before I logged off Twitter yesterday evening, I tweeted this.

Every November, it’s the same thing: pass comment on what the leader of the opposition is wearing or not wearing. He doesn’t bow low enough. He doesn’t wear the right clothes. His poppy isn’t big enough. Look, if Corbyn didn’t appear at the Armistice Day ceremony, then they’d have something to complain about. However, using his clothing to make judgements on his character is nothing short of bullying. These people should be ashamed of themselves, but that’s hoping for too much. These people have no shame.

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McVey To Be Kicked Upstairs?

According to The Liverpool Echo, Tory MP, Nigel Evans claims Esther McVey should be elevated to the House of Lords. “Let’s get her into the House of Lords as quickly as possible”, he gushed. In my blog from 3 May, I suggested that being ‘kicked upstairs’ was a very real possibility should she lose her seat.

Perhaps in a bid to retain McVey’s talent (sic) in the event of a defeat, Cameron appointed the deeply unpopular hatchet-woman to the Privy Council last February.

So what is the Privy Council? There are two answers to that question: the first is that membership guarantees a job for life and the second is, according to its website,

… the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreement is reached on those items of Government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to Ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as Departmental Ministers.

I prefer to see the Privy Council as an anachronistic institution that extends the privileges of the already privileged. Appointees are required to swear an oath that was written during the Tudor period. To reveal this oath was once considered to be treasonous.

Officially, Privy Counsellors are ‘advisers’ to the monarch and are granted the title ‘Right Honourable’.

McVey said,“this is a huge honour and I am absolutely delighted and privileged to become a member.”

McVey could find herself sitting at the cabinet table when the Queen’s Birthday Honours are announced next month. The Cat thinks she’ll be given Minister without portfolio as it saves Spamface having to come up with a proper cabinet rank. She’s also likely be reunited with the terminally thick and equally cruel, IDS.

So what exactly is McVey’s talent apart from being a bully?

 

 

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Some Thoughts About The Future of Esther McVey

To be honest, I try not to think about Esther McVey, the television host turned Tory minister-cum-tormentor of the poor and disabled. It’s enough to give me nightmares. However, things aren’t going her way in West Wirral and if the polls can be trusted, she’ll be out on her ear next week.

So what lies ahead for McVey if the voters kick her out? Well, for starters, she could be ‘kicked upstairs’ and become ‘Baroness McVey of Somewhere Or Other’. On the other hand, she may do what IDS did when he lost his job as Tory leader and don sackcloth and ashes, and claim she’s doing her penance (like IDS, she’s a Catholic). Readers may recall IDS visited housing estates during his penitent period. He claimed to ‘understand’ the poor,  while posing for photographers outside a block of flats before quickly scuttling off in his limo. He also set up a think-tank, the ironically-named, Centre for Social Justice. Could McVey also set up a think-tank? I doubt it. She likes the cameras too much.

McVey could return to television as a talking head, appearing as a guest on programmes like Countdown  and The One Show as Gyles Brandreth has done. I can see her taking over from Dominic ‘Man of the People’ Littlewood as the host of Saints and Scroungers. Then again, she may opt for a daytime confessional show. Think of the Jeremy Kyle Show but with less sympathy. If that’s possible.

Unlike the millions she punished for being poor and disabled, at least McVey has a future. It’s just a shame that future isn’t in prison.

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Filed under Conservative Party, General Election 2015, Political parties

Nightmare on King Street (Part 16)

The ruling Tory group of Hammersmith and Fulham Council are a nasty, mean-spirited bunch. Their blatant classism and disgust for those whom they see as inferior (that’s ordinary working class people, benefit claimants and homeless people) has marked out the council as one of the cruellest in the country.

In the last day or so, the council has been sending out these cards to council tenants.

Happy Christmas from your overlords.

Happy Christmas from your overlords.

The fizzing pound coin represents an Alka Seltzer. Geddit?

Yesterday, Cllr Andrew Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for housing appeared on BBC London News to defend the local authority’s decision to send these cards. His manner was bullish, unrepentant and stridently classist. Remember this is the council where you will find Tory councillors referring to tower blocks as ‘vertical slums’ and the council itself working flat out to reduce to amount of council housing stock within the borough.

I was contacted by Tina Buckley, whose mother is a council tenant of some 60 years and has never been in arrears with her rent. Tina appeared on BBC London 94.9 where she was due to confront Cllr Johnson about his council’s Christmas cards. The ordinarily pugnacious Johnson  took the coward’s way out and declined an invitation to appear.

Let’s remind ourselves of Cllr Johnson’s past musings on council housing. From The Evening Standard, 2 October 2012.

“We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is outdated and that it’s wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a subsidised house irrespective of housing need.

“Instead, we want to give honest, hard-working, local residents on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, the opportunity to access social housing.”

On Conservative Home, Johnson penned an article that outlined his thoughts about the housing shortage:

That’s why we’re doing all we can to increase the supply of homes to buy for local people on low to medium incomes, through new delivery using council land and assets. We already have a significant amount of social housing, but it needs to be used more effectively. It’s why we’ve brought in fixed termed tenancies and given far greater priority for those in work rather than on welfare. What we really need is more housing for the middle market and at long last we have the figures to prove it.

There’s little, if any, mention here of homes to rent. The council knows that those on low to medium incomes cannot afford the borough’s vastly inflated house prices and will regularly trot out weasel words like these. There are new developments all over the borough and many of the properties within them will be sold to Chinese investors. If LBH&F could get its way, it would sell off all of its council housing (it’s been transferred to a so-called ‘arms length’ management company or ALMO) to foreign investors for redevelopment.

In last October’s edition of Inside Housing, Johnson said:

‘The old, antiquated system has created disadvantaged communities by producing concentrations of people on benefits with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and sometimes social breakdown.

‘In its place, we want to create neighbourhoods where a broad mix of social households all live side-by-side.’

Classism writ large. There will be no “broad mix of social households” if the council gets its way.

Time and time again, the new crop of Tories have shown themselves to be bullies. Unable to fathom what life is like on a low income, they would rather engage with fictional characters and myths than real people. If people are finding it hard to pay their rent, in Tory eyes, it’s because they’d rather spend their money on flatscreen televisions, booze and iPhones than on their rent. This card is nothing less than an attempt to bully people. It also deliberately ignores the economic plight of many of those who are housed by the council, whose stagnant incomes have failed to keep pace with the spiralling cost of living.

The Cowan Report also has the story here.

Next May, we have a chance to vote this current Tory administration out.  Let’s do it.

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Nazi Boy is reselected to fight Cannock Chase

Nazi Boy opens his mouth and the world comes crashing in. Pic courtesy of The Guardian

Nazi Boy opens his mouth and the world comes crashing in. Pic courtesy of The Guardian

The Jewish Chronicle reports that Aidan Burley has been reselected to fight Cannock Chase in the 2015 General Election.

He has been chosen despite the failure of the Conservative Party to release a promised report into his participation in the event, which took place at the Val Thorens ski-resort in late 2011.

A guest at the stag event was photographed wearing SS uniform, while there were also claims that attendees toasted SS leaders.

Mr Burley was reselected at a Cannock Chase Conservative Association meeting this week, after which association chairman Phil Jones said that the “overwhelming feeling” was that “since 2010 he has set a new standard as a constituency MP”.

He has a majority of 3,195, but is placed at number 50 on the Labour Party’s target list for 2015.

Sadly, it looks like it’s just The Cat and The Jewish Chronicle who are interested in the whereabouts of the French investigator’s report into Burley. The rest of Britain’s ‘free’ press seems to be eerily silent on this matter.

A majority of 3,195 isn’t massive and if Labour can make capital out of Nazi Boy’s fetish for Third Reich symbols, then they can’t fail.

Burley managed to upset many people last year when he tweeted to his followers that the Olympics opening ceremony was “lefty crap”. That’s ok, Herr Oberst, we don’t much care for Nazi crap around here either.

Here’s what local lad, Stan Collymore had to say to him.

“I’ll happily stand against you at the next election. You have no clue about our town or its people.”

Go on, Stan! Back of the net! Take his legs out!

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So who did you remember on this Remembrance Sunday, Dave?

Britain’s Chief Bully lays a wreath, while protesters are killed by British made weapons

No prizes for guessing the answer to that question. He remembered all the lovely dictators and absolute monarchs he sold guns, bullets, rockets and tanks to last week. And while he was doing that, Britain’s trading partner, Bahrain, was crushing more dissent with British-made weaponry. Protests have been banned and people are still being killed.

The protests and accompanying crackdown in Kuwait has also been ignored by our news media. Since 1898, Kuwait has enjoyed close ties with Britain, when it volunteered itself to become a bridgehead into the dying Ottoman Empire, which Britain had long sought to carve up (the Crimean War was waged to prevent Russia from exploiting the so-called “Sick man of Europe”).

So while Dave and his Tory chums were speaking movingly about those who fell in Britain’s many wars, people were dying in the streets of gulf states, killed by weapons made in this country.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 2) : a round up of recent events

HF Conwatch reveals that public services slashing Hammersmith & Fulham Council has been accused of tax-dodging There is an update here.

The Guardian, Private Eye and The Financial Times all report that the Council for the Rich has been employing executives as consultants through private companies to avoid paying tax. Unfortunately for the Council these shenanigans may well lead to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs taking a closer look at their accounts.

I seemed to have missed this Guardian interview with the Dear Leader when it was first printed.  Greeno, who is stepping down as Council Leader, is going to guide the White City Redevelopment from the backbenches. He tells us that he will be an “unpaid champion for White City”. Nowhere Towers finds this whole thing a little curious.  While we understand that he is the owner of Biba Medical and draws a not-too-insubstantial salary from it,  it is odd that he would do this sort of thing for the ‘love of it’. Tories, especially the current crop of laissez-faire cultists, don’t have an altruistic bone in their bodies. For them, altruism is a dirty word.

Greenhalgh also defended himself from accusations that he was socially cleansing the borough,

“I’m the son of a refugee, I’m the son of someone brought up by their single mother, not in public housing but as sub-tenant with all of the insecurity that involves, [… ] I understand poverty because my family came from very humble origins”.

At the end of the article we learn that he went to St. Paul’s School, which charges £6,275 for day pupils and £9,297 for boarders,  which is well outside the reach of those on fixed incomes or, indeed, those from “humble origins”. Unless he’s trying to tell us that he went there under the assisted places scheme? He also went to Trinity College, Cambridge. An ex-girlfriend of mine went there at the same time as Greeno. I wonder if their paths ever crossed?

Not that any of this really matters, what truly matters is the way in which the Dear Leader and his fellow Tories are smashing up communities and cutting services.

“You have to have the safety net,” he says, insisting that councils will not abandon vulnerable people, but may “change the rules of engagement”. He says: “They might say, ‘We’re about opportunity, we’re not about dependency’.”

I beg to differ. Nowhere Towers understands that the borough’s social housing tenants run a higher risk of being evicted than in many other areas. There are also numerous tales of how vulnerable people have been turned away from the Town Hall.  In 2010 a heavily pregnant woman was forced to sleep on park benches because the council refused to provide assistance.  Last year, the numbers of homeless people in the borough rose by 92%.  This lack of concern for those who aren’t in receipt of 6-figure salaries has earned  Hammersmith & Fulham the dubious distinction of appearing in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” a record number of times.

Greenhalgh has also recently been appointed the government’s Housing Champion. I kid you not.

Mr Greenhalgh, who is stepping down as council leader later this year, has been asked to carry out a review of housing regulations in support of the Government’s Housing Strategy published in November last year alongside Simon Randall, a solicitor specialising in social housing.

Key areas highlighted in the strategy included improving environmental standards, building more affordable housing, security of tenure, legal protection for tenants and leaseholders, and support for the elderly, vulnerable households and those on low incomes.

But this job isn’t necessarily about housing as this revealing article from Build.co.uk tells us. Here he is not a “Housing Champion” he’s a “Construction Champion”. And yes, there is a difference.

Last night the Council voted through another public services slashing budget, while reducing the rate of Council Tax by 3.75%. Sounds attractive doesn’t it? The local council cuts tax to ‘put more money in your pocket’… it makes great copy… except the reality is altogether different. Residents in the borough can expect to pay more in parking and other charges. While most boroughs offer free Internet in its libraries, for example, this council charges £0.50 for every half hour after the first free half hour. The rich won’t feel a thing because they don’t use public services. Those on benefits and low to middle incomes will find that the reduction in Council Tax will hit them hard.

Shepherds Bush blog says that Greenhalgh likes the number 3. Nowhere Towers thinks that Greeno really likes the number 2, especially when it comes to the borough’s less wealthy residents, on whom his party keeps dumping.

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Clegg, “Protests may scare off students”

The ghost of Sir John Simon haunts Clegg

What is it with Nick Clegg? Last week before the student Carnival of Resistance, Clegg advised students not to participate, inviting us all to “look at the proposals”. This article from the Press Association says,

Protests against proposed increases in tuition fees risk scaring young people from poor backgrounds off going to university, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned.

Really? How did he work that out?

He appealed to the NUS to ensure that its campaign against fee rises does not have negative consequences on efforts to widen access to higher education.

So now Clegg has resorted to more lies and more threats. Is there no depth to which this man will not sink? The Guardian tells us that Labour will “trigger ” a vote in the Commons today that could “”bring about the first rebellion of the coalition”.

The paper also says,

Yesterday a petition signed by 104 former parliamentary candidates for the Lib Dems, essentially representing the party’s grassroots, called on Clegg to abide by the pre-election pledge to vote against higher fees. Research published today suggests that the higher fees will profoundly damage social mobility.

Of course Clegg is pig-headed and is unlikely to listen to good advice. He is more interested in what it means to be in government – even if that means he risks losing his seat at the next General Election.  There is the smell of desperation about Clegg that is only masked by the odour of his bravado.

NUS President, Aaron Porter told Sky News,

“Given his plan to triple the tuition fees he said he would abolish, it would be astonishing for Nick Clegg to blame anyone but himself for putting people off university”

Porter recently had his spine returned to him by Labour. You can read the full text of Clegg’s letter to Porter here on Liberal Democrat Voice.  This part of the letter stands out.

There is one thing in this debate that I believe unites all of us – both parties in the coalition; your fellow members in the Labour Party; the NUS and people throughout the country who care about higher education – and that is that the opportunity to go to university is one that everyone should feel they have. It would be a tragedy if we inadvertently allowed our debate about the methods to damage our shared goal.

Debate? Given Clegg’s bullishness, the ‘debate’ is likely to be one-sided. The letter to Porter is, in the words of The Spectator, “condescending”.  Clegg has no interest in what the opposition says. He is right and that’s all there is to it.

A third day of action has been called for today and thousands of students around the country will be participating in strikes, demos and occupations.

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Filed under Education, Government & politics, Liberal Democrats, Student protests