Tag Archives: Jeremy Hunt

Owen Paterson: horsemeat and bullshit

Since the horsemeat scandal broke in the last week, we have seen more and more of Owen Paterson and the more I see of him, the less I feel convinced by him. Paterson’s appearances on television have been wooden to say the least. Next to Jeremy Hunt, Paterson is a politician who seems to exude incompetence from every pore.

I don’t know about you but Paterson looks like a man who shouldn’t be where he is. For all his expensive education, this is a man who doesn’t seem capable of tying his shoelaces let alone be put in charge of a government department. It’s also revealing that he’s now charge of a department, which is second only to the Northern Ireland Office in terms of the least-wanted of ministerial briefs. In fact, Paterson’s previous role was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. No offence to the Northern Irish but the Tories only send the least brightest and the least capable to the Northern Ireland Office. It is the political equivalent of internal exile. If you’re at the NI Office, then it’s likely that you’ve messed up somewhere or you just don’t cut the mustard.

If Paterson was moved from Northern Ireland to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, then it’s unlikely that Cameron sees him as a rising star and his chance of a shot at one of the great ministries of state is remote… which can only be a good thing. Having said that, the rest of the cabinet isn’t full of great talents but Paterson makes them look like intellectual giants.

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The reshuffle: business as usual

Like other observers of the Westminster Circus, The Cat believes today’s cabinet reshuffle represents little change in government policy in spite of the rearrangement of faces in the various ministries and departments.  One thing is for certain, the reshuffle is a combination of political manoeuvring and blatant arrogance. It’s the government’s great big two fingers up to the people.

A few changes have indeed caught my eye. One move, in particular, was telegraphed to us a couple of weeks ago: David ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’ Laws is back, not as Chief Secretary to the Treasury but as Schools Minister under Michael ‘Pob’ Gove. It’s a perfect match. One is a pathological liar and the other is a pathological liar and a cheat. I’m certain that the privately-educated Laws will fully support Gove’s messianic zeal in smashing the state education system.

Jezza Rhyming-Slang, the government’s equivalent of Catch-22’s Major Major, is now the Health Secretary. Here he is in action.

Wags have already suggested that Jezza may offer Murdoch an NHS franchise. Dr.  Eoin Clarke reminds us that Hunt was  co-author of a book with Dan Hannan, which advocates, among other things,  the abolition of the NHS. Hunt is also involved with Hannan and Carswell’s Direct Democracy think-tank, which was founded in 2010. Here’s what the Lyin’ King said at the time,

Douglas Carswell and I are starting a new campaign: Direct Democracy. Its principles will be familiar to readers of this blog: decentralisation, the direct election of public officials, self-financing councils, devolved welfare, parliamentary control of foreign policy, elected sheriffs, a clean-up of Westminster, lots and lots of referendums – starting with a vote on EU membership.

The last paragraph is the clincher

Direct Democracy is open to anyone who wants to shift power from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from state to citizen. Now who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?

My bold. As predictable as clockwork, the auld EU obsession rears its ugly head. You can’t fault the guy’s dedication but blimey, it gets tedious.

I’ve tried finding a website for “Direct Democracy” but every single link is broken. There is their Facebook page.  It has 535 “likes”.

The “Direct democracy” that is being talked about here is something along the lines of a Swiss style system that’s laced with night-watchman state. Think of it as a sort of Victorian wonderland  for the 21st century that’s run for the benefit of oligarchs and those with inherited wealth.

Anyway, I digress, the reshuffle… yeah, dead interesting. The Hush Puppy-wearing Big Beast of the party has been moved from the Justice Ministry and given nothing.  That’s right, he’s now a minister without portfolio. He’s now no more than a long-running soap character who’s marking time without a story-line. Clarke has been replaced by Chris Grayling, a man with no legal experience… like, he’s not a lawyer.  I know, I know, surely a legal qualification  is an absolute prerequisite for anyone who is supposed to be the minister of state responsible for,er, justice? Not in the mind of Lord Snooty! The previous incumbents were barristers. Grayling is a former media producer. What does that tell you?

Maria ‘Killer’ Miller has been moved to Culture, Media and Sport. It’s likely she’s there because she watches the occasional play, is fond of the History Channel and takes in a bit of polo. Being a mad slasher, The Killer will no doubt whip out her chainsaw and get stuck into the arts as she did with the disabled. She’s also Minister for Women and Equality. Yeah, I’m falling off my seat with laughter as I’m typing this.

Over at Transport, Justine Greening was shunted into the International Development sidings. She can’t make too much noise about a proposed third runway at Heathrow while she’s jet-setting about the globe selling arms to friendly dictators. In her stead comes former miner and scab, Patrick McLoughlin.

Grant Shapps, the notorious sockpuppeteer, spiv and rat-faced bastard, has been elevated to the chairmanship of the Conservative Party displacing Sayeeda Warsi. This should please Moonie (did I tell you Sun Myung Moon is dead by the way?) Nile Gardiner, who, among other things, has called for Lord Snooty to ditch her. Gardiner won’t admit to it, but let’s put it this way: his antipathy towards her had less to do with her incompetence than it did her religion and skin colour.

Predictably enough, there are no changes at the top. Gid stays where he is. The Lib Dem contingent remains pretty much intact.  I read a tweet earlier that said, “They’ve replaced shit with shite”. I can’t argue with that.

Finally, have a laugh at Gid being booed at yesterday’s Paralympics.

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They hate them and bait them. No wonder a Democratic congresswoman was shot in Tucson

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot yesterday, I immediately thought that ultimate responsibility for the shooting lay with the hate-speech of America’s right-wing media, its pundits and their allies. After all, seemingly insane ideas and impulses have to come from somewhere.

The sheriff of Tucson, Clarence Dupnik, was spot on when he said “Arizona has become the Mecca of racism and bigotry”. Recently the state passed anti-immigration law SB1070 which permitted the police to stop and search anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Indeed, the sheriff of Maricopa County, the notorious Joseph Arpaio has been at the centre of this firestorm. But Arpaio is currently facing charges of abusing his power. His views on immigrants are well known and he is even lionized in this country by people who really ought to know better.

Since the complete deregulation of broadcasting under Reagan in the 1980’s, American television and radio networks no longer have to pretend to be unbiased. The deregulation of the airwaves allowed the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others to indulge in their favourite past-time of free-form hate-speech. They bait liberals and welcome listeners on air who call for their deaths.  Ann Coulter’s books, for instance, depict Democrats as “dangerous” and  “stupid”.  Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News typically subjects liberals to hectoring and abuse.  The language and tone used by these so-called broadcasters often verges on the violent.  Their sole aim is to dehumanize their opponents.  During the congressional election campaign, freaky Sarah Palin produced this crosshair picture on her website.

Note that the picture has Gabrielle Giffords as one of the ‘targets’. The Daily Mirror says,

Controversial Republican politician Sarah Palin hurriedly removed a map of America with a cross-hair target over Mrs Giffords’s Congress seat from her Facebook profile.

I don’t think the FBI will be visiting her any time soon but this sort of thing is clearly irresponsible and dangerous. But is Britain free from this liberal/red/whatever-baiting? No. Recently, Hannan and Delingpole of the Telegraph have run blogs that bait and smear their opponents. A recent blog from Delingtroll asks “Why did God give Liberals annoying, whiny voices”? Make no mistake this sort of thing comes directly from the American right. His book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy has a title that could have sprung from the foetid brain of Ann Coulter.  Yet Delingtroll and Hannan both claim that only left is capable of hate. What these two wannabe hate-jocks want to do is to remould Britain along the lines of the US. I suppose we can be grateful for the fact that no one in this country has used the sort of imagery that Palin has used.

The response from the Telegraph’s Toby Harnden is characteristically dishonest,

Paul Krugman of the “New York Times” suggests darkly that Giffords was shot because she was “a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona” and “violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate” (those reponsible for such a climate being, of course, Republicans).

Harnden is in denial. He claims to know what motivated the suspect and uses hearsay to support his thesis,

Former classmates talk of “nonsensical outbursts” and a person “on his own planet”. His favourite reading apparently included “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto”. My colleague Jon Swaine has a summary here of the raving of a person who most people would judge to be a complete nutcase even if he hadn’t gone out and shot people.

Harnden’s stablemate Jon Swaine claims to have the inside track on Gifford’s assailant, Jared Loughner.

Ms Parker said Loughner had encountered Miss Giffords once before in 2007 and had “asked her a question and he told me she was ‘stupid and unintelligent’.”

However she added that when she had known him, Loughner seemed to be liberal or Left-wing.

How convenient. But this looks like bullshit,

The YouTube account stated that among Loughner’s favourite books, most of which were much-loved classic novels, were Mein Kampf andThe Communist Manifesto.

Only in Hayek’s fevered mind could these two books be mentioned in the same breath. Oddly enough this ‘link’ only appears in the right-wing press. In fact, the New York Daily News doesn’t mention the Communist Manifesto at all.

Loughner lists the Adolf Hitler autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” among his favorite books in an online profile, a list that also includes classics such as “Animal Farm” and “The Odyssey.”

Someone is making things up on this side of the Atlantic. I wonder why? Indeed the Murdoch-owned New York Post also repeats this line about the Communist Manifesto while adding that Loughner likes The Wizard of Oz.

In Britain, there right have been calling for the BBC to be broken up for years alleging ‘bias’ as their prime concern. Recently Murdoch’s News Corp has sought to increase its share in BSkyB which would quite possibly create a news service that closely resembles that of Fox News. The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt appears ambivalent about a possible takeover. Though this Guardian story tells us that he held a private meeting with James Murdoch in June.  Probably because he and his fellow Tories know that once Murdoch gets his hands on BSkyB, the party will have its very own unofficial ministry of information. They can also distance themselves from any strident remarks made on the channel by claiming that BSkyB is a “commercial broadcaster with no ties to the state”.

Irresponsible broadcasting that makes use of hate-speech will inevitably lead to some people believing that they have some sort of  right to take another’s life because a shock-jock or demagogue tells them that ‘liberals’ are responsible for the nation “going to hell in a handcart”.

Loughner also killed 5 others including a 9 year old child and a federal judge.

UPDATE: According to this Murdoch rag,  Loughner was some sort of conspiraloon.

THE suspect being held over Saturday’s shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords may have links to anti-Semitic race hate group American Renaissance.

An internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo quoted by FOX News Channel revealed the gunman – named by the media as Jared Loughner, 22 – is “possibly linked” to American Renaissance.

The group subscribes to an ideology that is “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti -ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” according to the DHS memo.

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Plural media or supine media? The right’s media claims don’t stack up

Jeremy Rhyming-Slang: Murdoch can count on him to do the 'right' thing

There are many right-whingers in this country who constantly moan about ‘BBC bias’. It seems to me that none of them actually pay any attention the BBC’s news output, particularly with regards to corporation’s reportage of the recent student protests. Throughout its history, the BBC has been more biased against the left and the working class than it has the right: the General Strike of 1929, the Battle of Orgreave Colliery are a couple of examples of this tendency. Then, in the aftermath of the 9/11, old footage of celebrating Palestinians was grafted onto current footage to help reinforce the myth that all Muslims hate America (this ignores the fact that there are Christian Palestinians). These are examples of real bias yet the right say nothing – and for obvious reasons.

Make no mistake, the right’s claim that the BBC is ‘biased against them’ is a nothing more than a manifestation of control freakery. They won’t be content until all the news media of this country reflects their views. Guido Fawkes blog tells us that “breaking up the BBC” will actually create a “plural media”. The subtext to this demand is that right-wingers like Staines want Murdoch to increase his stake in BSkyB. Murdoch already owns The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The News of the World, Times Educational Supplement, The Times Literary Supplement and publishers Harper Collins.  Staines says,

The BBC must therefore be an even worse threat to “media plurality”, particularly when one considers that it is protected from fair competition by a state subsidy via taxation. Somehow this doesn’t worry the Guardian, which is hardly surprising because BBC News often feels like the broadcast arm of that paper. When one considers that the BBC overwhelmingly recruits from its pages the Guardian-BBC axis is abundantly clear.

The fact that media jobs (note I said media jobs) are advertised in The Guardian is not an indication of media bias any more than teaching jobs advertised in the Murdoch-owned TES will necessarily attract an overwhelming number of right wing, Tory- voting teachers. It’s a facile assertion. What Staines fails to understand is that the numbers of media jobs advertised in The Times and The Telegraph are fewer than in The Guardian because their media sections are smaller. The Guardian has had a dedicated media section for a number of years. This has not been the case with the right wing press.

Douglas Carswell chimes in with this

Creating a framework that allows local TV to flourish – and without public funds – would give a real boost to localism.  A patchwork of local TV stations across the country would help folk keep tabs on their ever more autonomous council – and their directly-elected police commissioner and mayor.

Besides, it would, as Guido suggests, give us a more decentralised, more plural media.

These TV stations will more than likely be bought up by larger concerns. This is exactly what happened to many local newspapers in the 1980’s which were bought up by larger publishing companies. As for a “plural media” how exactly will this be achieved by creating ‘local television stations’? ITV franchises like Anglia, Thames and Granada once provided quality local news until deregulation forced them to consolidate. Localism, my eye.

When the Broadcasting Act (1990) was passed, the Major government claimed that it would lead to more ‘choice’. 19 years after the Act was passed, it has led to dilution, repetition, dumbing down and a greater choice of rubbish. Television companies, including the BBC,  have been involved in a race to the bottom since the Act was passed. Commercial radio has fared even worse with much of the music output, for instance, duplicated across channels.  Interestingly enough the Act also provided a convenient loophole to protect Murdoch’s Sky which was defined as a “non-UK service”.

What the Tories and their supporters actually want is a supine media that disseminates their ideology and only asks polticians what Americans call ‘softball questions’. They want a British equivalent of Fox News which, in spite of its name, contains very little news and a lot of right wing opinion. Fox News, as Chomsky and Herman observe, is little more than an “unofficial ministry of information”. No doubt this is what Jeremy Hunt and his supporters want to see. Not content with having most of the newspapers on their side, they want control of the rest of the media too.

The last thing this country needs is to have the likes of Richard Littlejohn or Nick Ferrari elevated to the same status as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity in the States.

Don’t let Murdoch get his own way. Please sign the petition.

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