Tag Archives: Toby Young

United In Loathing

The Labour right is in a spin (in more ways than one) and can’t for the life of them fathom Jeremy Corbyn’s growing popularity. In the eyes of these Blairite fossils and their allies in the Simulated Thatcher Government, Corbyn is a “dinosaur” ; a “relic from the past”. These tropes are based entirely on the arrogant assumption that the political positions espoused by the Tories and Blairite ‘modernizers’ are modern and fresh. They’re not. These people manage the circulation and recirculation of stale ideas. That is all they do.

At a time when fresh ideas are called for, the ‘modernizers’ are indulging themselves in a great deal of self-flagellation and name-calling. Having lost the election in May, the party’s ‘modernizers’ are incapable of understanding why they lost so heavily in Scotland and continue to blame the SNP for their failure to win seats that they’d once taken for granted. Entitlement, eh? It’s a bitch. But nothing compares to the nastiness dished out to Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party for having the temerity to be more popular than the three ‘modernizers’.

Today, one of those ‘modernizers’, Tristram Hunt, claimed that Corbyn was “politically and economically bankrupt”. This coming from a man who willingly crossed a picket line to give a lecture on Karl Marx! This is a measure of how far to the Right the Labour Party has moved over the last 30 years. Constantly in denial, they complain bitterly that they’re described by their critics as “Tory-lite”. Here’s a tip, Labour: change your ways.

A big deal was made of Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s interview with Corbyn on Channel 4 News on Monday, which was described by the doom-mongers as a “meltdown”. KGM demanded to know what he meant when he used the word “friends” when he referred to Hamas and Hizb’ullah, who had been invited by Corbyn to a meeting at the Palace of Westminster. The Cat thinks KGM’s “do you still beat your wife” style of questioning was tediously sensationalistic but Corbyn asserted himself. He’s not media trained like some PR bloke. He’s human. How would Cameron respond? Well, he’d lie of course.

Nonetheless this interview prompted the inevitable yelps and squeals from Corbyn’s detractors. “He’s an anti-Semite” screamed Nick Cohen. Others harked further back to the 1980s, “Look, I told you, he supports terrorists! Did you hear  he invited Sinn Fein to the House of Parliament”? Sinn Fein are now in a power-sharing government at Stormont. I suppose Corbyn should have referred to these elected representatives as “enemies” and “scum” instead just to please BICOM or the Tory-supporting press? Unsurprisingly, nothing was mentioned of Labour Friends of Israel’s continued and unqualified support for the current Israeli government, which includes racists like  Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Hypocrisy much?

Speaking of Labour Friends of Israel, Luke Akehurst, the little big wheel in Labour First, a Blairite ‘pressure’ group (party within a party, actually), yesterday urged party members to give their second and third preference votes to anyone but Corbyn. This article on the BBC website says:

Group secretary Luke Akehurst said: “We clearly do not share Jeremy Corbyn’s politics and believe these would destroy Labour’s chances of electability.

“We would therefore encourage supporters of Andy, Yvette and Liz to transfer votes to each other at CLP nomination meetings so that as few CLPs as possible make supporting nominations for Jeremy.”

As well as being a former  local councillor and an unreconstructed Blairite, Akehurst also works, rather unsurprisingly, for BICOM, whose website tells us:

Luke, who has just stood down after 12 years as a Labour councillor in Hackney, spent 11 years as a lobbyist for a PR company and worked with Weber Shandwick, largely for the defence industry, as well as for property companies and local authorities.

Akehurst (or Lukehurst) is another reason why people have been turning their back on the Labour Party. Here’s a Powerbase article on Weber Shandwick.

The attacks on Corbyn from the Labour Right are practically indistinguishable from those coming from the Tories and other right-wingers. First, the Tories considered registering as Labour supporters to vote for Corbyn, then they realized that wasn’t working and have now decided to join the Nu Labourites in a chorus of condemnation of the man whom they describe as an “extreme left-winger”. Pish and vinegar.

At the New Statesman (don’t get excited, it’s pretty right-wing these days), Stephen Bush cites a recently conducted private poll of rank and file Labour members, which has Corbyn apparently leading the race, much to the chagrin of the naysayers and doom-mongers in the Westminster bubble. Commenting on the poll, CapX editor , Iain Martin, advises his readers:

Now, private polling must be treated with some scepticism but there is no doubt that sensible Labour types are deeply worried.

What? Just private polling? He closes the paragraph with this by now familiar claim:

If Corbyn wins it will be the equivalent for the Tories of winning the Wold (sic) Cup three times. They will get to keep Downing Street for ever

Martin continues:

Splendid, say the Tories, who seem to be joining Labour in huge numbers just to vote for the fanatical Corbyn.

I heard Labour was weeding out suspicious applications, Iain. Didn’t you get the memo? Your mate,Tobes, recently got rumbled and threatened legal action because Labour refused to return his three quid.

Daft git… and I’m being unusually generous today.

This article in the Dictator Spectator claims:

By contrast, the Tories are trying to win over new voters. They have moved to the political centre, as the announcement of the national living wage made clear, and this week David Cameron announced a campaign to close the gender pay gap. The Tory plan is clear: occupy the centre ground and force Labour to the political extremes.

Delusional tripe. The Tories do not, and have not, occupied the mythical centre ground since the days of Heath. And the much fussed about “national living wage”? It’s just the national minimum wage rebranded. But that’s what postmodern politics is all about: image, branding, straplines and the right amount of lighting. It’s a former PR man’s dream career should they ever fancy a change of job.

But voters are sick and tired of politicians who behave like sloganizing PR types (cabinet) and salespeople (junior ministers) selling knock-off designer labels in a dodgy pub. Voters have responded well to Jeremy  Corbyn and the 56 SNP MPs because they look and sound like real politicians who believe in something. The same cannot be said of Tristram Hunt or Chuka Umunna.

Regular readers will know The Cat is not a member of the Labour Party and has no intention of registering to become a supporter just because he prefers Corbyn to the three automatons.  He wishes him luck because he’ll need it. Should he win, then the Akehursts, Hunts, Perkinses and Kendalls will demand a recount.  They’ll complain that the Tories and Trotskyists had formed an unholy alliance to “destroy” the Labour Party, when it was their own members and their new electoral system that worked against them.

The Tories, on the other hand, may tell you that Corbyn will make Labour unelectable and how they “fear” a Kendall leadership. But this is entry level reverse psychology. It’s the basic stuff of PR campaigns and black propaganda. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being manipulated? Secretly, the Tories and the Labour ‘modernizers’ don’t want popular discussions of economic policies and political transformation. The very idea of a politically conscious electorate frightens the ever lovin’ shit out of them.

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#20)

This week’s comment was found on Toby Young’s blog, which pleads for a “First Amendment” (sic) to protect verbal bullies and the orally incontinent. Free speech in Tobes’s mind is where people say anything they like regardless of how nasty and mean-spirited the words may be.  It’s ‘free speech’, right?

Tobes claims that Katie Hopkins is the subject of “visceral hatred” after a successful campaign to sack her from This Morning where she had been appearing as a reactionary rent-a-gob. A tad dramatic. No? Here’s how Tobes opens his article:

There are lots of good arguments for a British equivalent of the First Amendment, not least that it would prevent Parliament passing any law that abridged the freedom of the press, and I hope the next Conservative manifesto includes a commitment to replacing the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.

What Tobes doesn’t realize is that a “First Amendment” or to be more precise, a right to free speech enshrined in law, would not actually apply to a campaign to remove her from our screens. La Hopkins hasn’t been arrested nor has she been charged with any offence. A “First Amendment” has to be part of an existing document and no such document exists, thus the use of the phrase is a little silly.

Nonetheless the Honourable Tobes whines on:

I made a film about JS Mill recently for the Daily Politics and he identifies this form of censorship, which he calls “the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling”, as a far greater threat to freedom of thought and emotion than any laws a tyrannical government might pass. Orwell wrote about the same danger in his essay on ‘The Freedom of the Press’:

In Tobesworld, the right to insult people is more important than making sense and advancing rational arguments. Therefore, challenging crazy ideas or offensive speech is indicative, in his mind at least, of “tyranny”.

Now to the Comment of the Week. This is from “Kentucky Straight”, who doesn’t think the Hon Tobes goes far enough.

Kentucky Warped

This guy is confused: Scousers come from Liverpool, while “Man Utd fans” are fans of guess who? In fact, you don’t need to be a Mancunian to support Man  United. Anyone can be one.  “Kentucky” moans that an unnamed MP (Labour’s Jack Dromey, in fact) used the word “pikey” to refer to a postal worker.  “Pikey” is a derogatory word that is used to refer to Romanis and Irish Travellers and since 2007  it has been an offence to use the word. “Kentucky Fried” then complains that “another councillor” (likely to be UKIP), who is being investigated for “racism” for his remarks about an unnamed council ward in an unnamed city.  You see, this isn’t about “free speech” at all: it’s about the right to be nasty and intolerant as well as offensive.

Now “Kentucky Fried” may deny that he’s a racist but he’d have a hard time convincing me. Today’s racists are more likely to use euphemisms in an attempt to avoid confrontation or, indeed, detection. “Kentucky” is quite clearly either a member of a far-right party or he sympathizes with one. How do I know? It’s the way he claims that “We are becoming a Marxist police state”.

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Helmet-head to stand in Hammersmith for Tories in 2015?

The self-styled classical liberal catches flies between meals

This self-styled classical liberal catches flies between meals

I’ve just seen this on Shepherds Bush blog.

In a Telegraph Q&A, Hon. Tobes told his followers (few of whom live in the borough) that:

The Hammersmith Conservative Association will shortly be advertising for a candidate to stand in 2015 and I am thinking of applying.

That’s just great. First, he sets up a free school in Hammersmith & Fulham with the full support of the ruling Tory group and now he’s considering standing as a candidate in the 2015 election.

The Tory ruling group would love Hon Tobes to win. In fact, they’ve been working hard to ensure that as many Labour supporters as possible are moved from the borough. This article from the Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh from 2009 tells us that:

Hammersmith and Fulham council is plotting a Dame Shirley Porter-style programme to move out the poor and replace them with private homes and retail developments, critics claim.

Residents hit out as secret documents, obtained by the Standard, revealed how the borough’s leader and officials worked on a radical policy to end “homes for life” and turn council housing into a safety net service for just the old and disabled.

Under the plans, new homes will be built to attract residents with higher incomes and areas that have traditionally voted Labour will be broken up as more than 3,500 flats and houses are demolished. Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who also heads Mr Cameron’s Conservative Councils Innovation Unit, believes council housing is “warehousing poverty” and entrenches welfare dependency.

Last October, the Council crowed on its website:

Council rips up the social housing rule book

It added:

Trailblazing Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is to be the first local authority in the country to simultaneously introduce fixed term social housing tenancies and a maximum income cap for people wishing to access the housing register.

The flagship council will be ripping up the social housing rule book from April 2013 when it will introduce a number of radical policies which seek to increase low-cost homeownership, tackle the social and economic divide in the borough and give a far greater priority for council housing to people who are making a community contribution.

Further down, they tell us:

Currently most social housing tenants have the right to stay for life unless the tenancy is brought to an end because of a breach. Once the tenant passes away, the right of succession passes onto a family member even if the housing need of the individual is less than other potential applicants.

The council believes that this does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home-ownership and fails to take into account the fact that a household’s need for social housing may be temporary.

From next year, the council will issue fixed-term tenancies of five years for new social housing lettings. This would be reduced to two years in certain cases.

One rule for the rich, eh?

The West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates are about to be bulldozed and new developments like this one are springing up everywhere. I guarantee you that none of these building projects will have homes for rent.

The Tories, in spite of their libertarian-sounding rhetoric, are not only deeply reactionary and authoritarian; they also want to create a one-party state. In Hammersmith and Fulham, they have pretty much achieved that, albeit on a smaller scale. After all, this is the borough that is seen by the government as its social laboratory.

Knowing the Tories of this constituency, I’d say Helmet-head’s candidature is in the proverbial bag. These people would move heaven and earth for him. Remember how they served eviction notices on 22 charities in Palingswick House to make way for Tobes’s free school? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, baby!

Of course becoming candidate is only half the battle. Convincing voters of his integrity is another matter.

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Council Tax Benefit cuts spell further hardship for the low-waged, poor and vulnerable

Are we about to see a repeat of this?

Just when you think this venal government couldn’t get any crueller, I read today that the Con Dems are to scrap Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and leave it to local councils to make their own arrangements. This is what they describe as “localism”, which in an earlier blog, I described as a “marketing gimmick to sell council cuts”. It would appear that my initial fears have been proven correct. The definition of the word, “empowerment” in the Tory lexicon, is to grant local authorities the power to screw the poor.

This article from today’s Guardian tells us that Lord Snooty faces a rebellion in his own constituency over this issue.

David Cameron is facing a revolt in his own Oxfordshire “backyard” as local Tories join a national outcry over council tax reforms that they say will cost people on low earnings more than £420 a year from next April.

Tory-run West Oxfordshire district council, which covers the prime minister’s Witney constituency, has decided to go it alone and keep the existing system throughout next year, effectively snubbing Cameron’s government.

Council Tax, like the hated Poll tax before it, is not based on an individual’s ability to pay but on local property prices, which are themselves, inaccurate. In some areas, Council Tax is high and in other areas, it is lower. Often, in those areas where Council Tax is low, services have been slashed. Take Hammersmith and Fulham, for example, a council controlled for the last 6 years by the Tories, who have cut local services and forced out community groups out of Palingswick House to make way for Toby Young’s free school. This is evidence enough of how H&F council views those who are not materially wealthy. Here the Council Tax is apparently low but only because of the cuts and the stealth taxes imposed on the local population. These stealth taxes include, ramping up parking charges and charging to cart away bulky items of rubbish, a service that was once offered for free. The borough discount leisure card was scrapped almost as soon as they took power.

The last leader of the council, Stephen ‘Dear Leader’ Greenhalgh made it clear that he wanted more rich people to move into the borough. When in power, he approved the sale of council homes and he has leant on Housing Associations to sell any properties that become void. Property prices have increased dramatically  over the last 5 to 6 years with some properties in the borough selling for as much as £1m. It is unlikely that a council, like Hammersmith and Fulham, which is wholly committed to making life easier for their rich chums, would have its own version of CTB because it despises anyone who is poor or on a low income. Instead, those on low incomes will be forced to move out of the borough.

Polly Toynbee tells us that,

300 councils must each devise their own criteria. Each becomes a mini DWP, establishing its own means test without having access to people’s earnings. Each must divide its benefit pot between varying numbers of claimants each year. Miserly authorities can keep much of it for other purposes. Each decides who is “vulnerable” or whether to include disability living allowance, child benefit or personal savings in declaring who is eligible for how much.

Hammersmith and Fulham is one of those “miserly authorities” and I can expect someone like Foghorn Phibbs or Peter Graham to trot out social Darwinian clichés in defence of the council’s niggardly attitude to those who are on low or no incomes.

I found this interesting site that was set up by the students on the MA Investigative Journalism course at City University.

Hammersmith and Fulham is the fourth most expensive borough in the country, both to rent and to buy property. New developments will not include any more council housing, but will instead provide a large number of properties for rent at the 80 per cent level. That offers little opportunity for current residents on lower incomes to afford to live in the borough independently. Coupled with the Government’s benefit cap, large numbers of people may be forced out of the area.

The scrapping of CTB is the latest in a long line of poorly-conceived ideas to have come from this government, which in spite of its protestations, remains firmly committed to supporting and extending the powers of the rich at the expense of those who can least afford it.

The Worksop Guardian reports that 5,000 families could be at risk in Bassetlaw.

The Salford Star tells us that the mayor could be forced to implement cuts that may affect 20,000 people.

Before the Liberal Democrats accepted the poison chalice of governmental power, they told us that they wanted to scrap Council Tax and replace it with a fairer system of local income taxation. This idea was quietly dropped when Nick Clegg walked through the door of 10 Downing Street.

This government’s justification for CTB cuts is best illustrated by the intellectually-challenged Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, who claims that the cuts will “make work pay and promote local enterprise”. With wages stagnant,  prices increasing week on week, banks reluctant to lend businesses money and living standards falling, how does he see this happening?

This latest wheeze from the government will force even more people into poverty and debt and may even force people out onto the streets. Indeed, this could be another Poll Tax moment for the Tories with people taking to the streets to protest and much else besides.

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Taking another look at TURC

The Trade Union Reform Campaign has been mentioned a few times on this blog, mainly for the fact that its chairman, Adrian Burley, has a Nazi fetish and some rather questionable attitudes to difference. The Nazis, need I remind anyone, were no friends of the trade unions or the working class.  Here at Nowhere Towers, we believe that not only is Burley a Nazi fetishist, he’s more than likely a racist too.

TURC was founded towards the tail-end of last year. It has the approval of Lord Snooty, who sent them a letter giving them the big ‘thumbs up’ in their quest to smash what’s left of the trade union movement.

But they’re operating in an already crowded market with rivals like the Taxpayers Alliance and The Freedom Association working to achieve the same ends.

One thing that I’ve noticed about TURC is that its parliamentary council (not a coven then?) is mainly drawn from the 2010 intake but with one exception: Liam ‘I did nothing wrong’ Fox is also part of this gang of thugs. No doubt he’s there to lend a sheen of gravitas to this inexperienced collection of young and not-so-young bloodsuckers.

TURC’s beef is with paid union facility time, which is, like it or not, essential to workplace relations. Such work cannot be done outside of work hours. TURC thinks that it can. Like TPA and TFA, TURC refers to union members who are paid for facility time “Pilgrims”.  The only problem is that this word is entirely unrelated to pilgrims and pilgrimages but to a woman called Jane Pilgrim, a full-time organizer with UNISON. TURC likes broad brush strokes. But it’s guilt by association. Nothing more, nothing less.

For all its hot air and bluster, Nowhere Towers thinks TURC has arrived late to Thatcher’s red-bashing party.  The punch has all been drunk and what remains of the drink is a lonely bottle of vermouth. The TURCs are envious that they weren’t there to put the boot into trade unions and working class communities in the name of ‘freedom’.

The language of the 1980s has also been resurrected. Phrases like “loony left” are routinely trotted out about by the likes of Toby Young.

TURC’s website doesn’t seem to have been updated much. The last post on the home page occurred on 13 July, 2012. Some spammers have also left comments, which I find particularly amusing. No quality control but then what did you expect?

Here’s a glimpse of their Twitter page

I’ve thought of starting a Tory Reform Campaign but the Tory Reform Group already exists. They don’t seem to do much either. How about The Campaign to Reform the Tory Party? It’s needed, that’s for sure.

I found this on the Cabinet Office’s website.

Facility time is paid time off during working hours for trade union representatives to carry out trade union duties and time off for representatives and members to undertake trade union activities.

The Government recognises that unions can play a constructive role in a modern workplace contributing to the effective and efficient operation of public services.

Many union representatives give their own time in addition to any facility time, to support their colleagues both individually and collectively through the industrial relations machinery. Where this operates well it serves the interest both of the union members and the employer well.

We are seeking to find a balance between supporting constructive engagement with employee representatives for the good of public services and providing better value for the taxpayer.

Formal consultation is between the Civil Service and its trade unions, however if you are a civil servant and would like to comment, please send us your thoughts to facilitytimeconsultation@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk or post to Civil Service Workforce Reform Team, Cabinet Office, 4th Floor – Red Zone – Bank 20, 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ. 

“Consultation” is one of those words that says the opposite of what it means whenever politicians use it. This government is taking the ideas of Burley and his  chums seriously. But then, this government is also arriving late to the party because there’s barely anything left of the unions to smash. Maybe, the Toxics will turn one each other. I’m not a fan of bloodsports, by the way, but I can always make an exception as far as the Tories’ are concerned.

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Tobes’ free school gets free publicity courtesy of the BBC

Yesterday evening I was watching BBC London News and couldn’t quite believe what I was watching. The West London Free School, Toby Young’s vanity project in Hammersmith, was given plenty of airtime in what amounted to nothing more than free publicity at the expense of the license payer.

Not only was the segment a bit of free publicity, it also contained some factual inaccuracies.  When the report was first aired at 1325, the reporter said that the school had support from various people but neglected to mention the council. This was put right after I tweeted the BBC to remind them that Hammersmith and Fulham Council supported the project. The reporter also claimed that Young had set up the school to “respond to the shortage of places in the borough [of Hammersmith & Fulham]”. Hon Tobes actually wanted to site his school in Acton in the neighbouring borough of Ealing. When he couldn’t find a suitable location, Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham council duly obliged and gave notice to the 21 or so tenants of Palingswick House.

The West London Free School is being touted as the template for future free schools.  While schools like this will receive funding from central government,  I fear that those schools that are part of the state comprehensive system will see their funding dry up unless they adopt the government’s model.

Here’s what Foghorn Phibbs said about Palingswick House last year.

It is a splendid building what is much better suited as a school rather than as office accommodation to voluntary organisation which is its use at present. Many of the groups do excellent work. For instance I was impressed  by a course the Afghan Council held Portcullis House last month teaching young Afghans about the workings of our Parliament – several of  them bravely plan to work in Afghanistan to use that knowledge to help develop their own Parliament. I am pictured helping the Afghan Ambassador hand out  their certificates.

Really? So why boot them out? He won’t say, instead he tells us that,

[…] alternative office accommodation for these organisations would be more cost effective. Selling the building helps us reduce our debt mountain and thus our interest bill – that leaves us with more money for the voluntary sector than we could otherwise afford.

Excuses, excuses. What the dissembling Phibbs failed to mention was the unsuitability of the new accommodation. He also neglected to mention that his wife/life partner was a councillor and used her influence to smooth the way for Hon Tobe’s school.

Here’s the link to BBC London News. The report is at 09.57. it’s only available for the next 7 hours.

It would appear that Hon Tobes’ ambitions don’t end with the West London Free School, he wants to start a chain of such schools.

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#OccupyLSX, right wing smears and the tax-dodging Barclay Brothers

I’ve never credited Britain’s right-wing commentators with much intelligence. They have the best education that money can buy and yet they’re still as thick as two short planks. If they aren’t thinking straight, then they’re making wilfully ignorant comments. Since OccupyLSX began outside St Paul’s Cathedral, the right has been desperately trying to second guess the movement. All attempts to do so have foundered.  As a result, the organs of the right have retreated to their default position: smear the protesters.

In the last few days, the Daily Telegraph (a paper run by a pair of tax-dodging brothers who also own the small island of Brecqhou near Sark in the Channel Islands) has done its utmost to ensure the public (or at the least, the right wing fraction of the public) is made fully aware of what these people are getting up to… or so it thinks.

Tuesday, this blog appeared from David Hughes. In it, he regurgitates a smear story printed the same day in the Telegraph.

They’ve been rumbled. It turns out that the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX) protesters who have settled in St Paul’s Churchyard are not only not occupying the Stock Exchange – they are not even occupying their own tents. Our enterprising news reporters were there in the small hours with a thermal imaging camera and discovered that most of the tents were empty. The report and video are here. You can hardly blame the demonstrators for preferring a snug bed at home to a chilly night on paving slabs. But their empty tent policy raises an important question. Decades of terrorist threats  have made most people in this country – and particularly in the capital – hyper-sensitive to the sight of a bag or suitcase left unattended. It’s normally only a matter of minutes before such items are whisked away by the police. So how come so many tents have been allowed to sit in the heart of London for so long without being removed, particularly now that we know that most are unoccupied?

So, it’s fine to invade people’s privacy for the sake of a smear story? This joker seems to think so. Let’s have a look at the ‘story’.

The camp forced St Paul’s to close for the first time since the Blitz and is costing local businesses thousands of pounds a day.

But footage shot by The Daily Telegraph on a thermal imaging camera appeared to show most of the dozens of tents in the cathedral churchyard were empty. And when the remaining protesters realised what The Telegraph was attempting to verify this, the mood turned ugly.

The site was quiet at around 12.30am with the faint smell of marijuana smoke in the air. A handful of police officers stood back on the fringes of the encampment.

First the authors of this piece repeat the same spiel about St Paul’s having to close for the first time since the Blitz. Notice how the word “Blitz” is used to evoke an image in the popular mind. But this image is connected to a particular memory of WWII. It was one that was evoked by Thatcher – much to her cost. One abiding image of the cathedral is often used to evoke this memory of the “Spirit of the Blitz” with this defiant building standing up to the Luftwaffe’s bombs when others could not.

Interestingly enough, although the cathedral’s dean told reporters that it had closed, it still went ahead with a planned wedding. Most historic buildings, if they have to charge anything at all for admission, will ask visitors to pay a small, often voluntary, charge. But, as we can see from St Pauls’ website, the charges are rather steep and it would interesting to find out exactly how many tourists visit the cathedral each week. When the charges were introduced, there was a public outcry. Yet, for some odd reason, this has been conveniently overlooked by the right wing press in order to make sure their smears stick. What this also shows us is how the Anglican Church is consumed with the same corporate greed as its neighbours. On this site, an American tourist complains that,

 …this church has the audacity to charge £13.50 for a student ticket is simply ridiculous, especially considering how well-endowed the Anglican Church is. Cologne, Florence, Ravenna; nearly any cathedral on the continent can surpass what St. Paul’s offers, and without sucking your wallet dry at that.

This tourist is not alone either. Theo Hobson,  in The Guardian’s Comment is Free wrote last year,

My reluctance to pay is not really a matter of meanness, but of principle. By excluding people, especially young people who are often time-rich but money-poor, and spiritually curious, the C of E is edging them away from a sense that England’s religious heritage is theirs – that it is not just for tourists, and not just for worshippers at actual services; it is also theirs to browse. And there’s another point: paying an entrance fee changes the nature of the visit. To pay is to make a tacit statement: that this is primarily a tourist-attraction, that its sacred function is secondary to this. Perhaps a little meanness is also involved, I admit.

William Oddie in the Catholic Herald wrote,

I have had this problem before, getting into Anglican cathedrals built by the Catholic Church and purloined at the Reformation. They have no right to stop you (or anyone else) entering: simply refuse politely and go in. I know that buildings like this need maintaining. But I would almost certainly pay more than the entrance fee as a voluntary contribution, and I usually do. A notice suggesting a voluntary contribution, even specifying a recommended sum and with a desk there to collect the money (they could hand out a free guide or something to encourage people to give) would avoid this appalling and deeply secular tourist entrance fee.

Back to the article, the authors claim that there was a ” faint smell of marijuana smoke in the air”. This is a way of painting the occupiers as “unwashed hippies” and has a resonance with the right’s response to the protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It panders to the deeply-held prejudices of the ruling classes and their unwitting allies, who tell us that they “never protest”. The reason for that it is obvious: they hold the whip but tell them that and they’ll reply with gobbledigook.  They also tell us that when the Torygraph snoopers started filming that the the “mood turned ugly”. The reason they say this is to insert a particular image in the public mind of an “enemy within” that needs to be vanquished by the police.

The Guardian (equated by Torygraph readers with Pravda) was more sympathetic to the occupiers,

“OccupyLSX was surprised to hear the Telegraph and others reporting this morning that 90% of our tents are empty overnight,” the group said in a statement.

“This is simply not the case. While it is quite possible that not every tent is occupied every night, we try to keep vacancy to a minimum and operate a sign-in/sign-out system to help ensure this happens. The camp attracts thousands of people every day. We do not expect all the people who are expressed through this movement to be able to stay overnight.”

The Guardian also adds that,

Reports quoting the 10% occupancy rate appeared in the Times,TelegraphSun, and Daily Mail on Tuesday, apparently based on evidence gathered by a police helicopter equipped with thermal imaging cameras.

However, City of London police told the Guardian that they could not confirm nor deny the reports, saying only that neither details of the thermal imaging cameras nor the occupancy estimates had come from them.

The right wing press’s position is beginning to look threadbare. So far, all they have is a handful of smears and a cupful of baseless allegations.

This blogger alleges that St Paul’s Cathedral is effectively run by former Ye Olde Cittie of London bankers and a former City of London Mayor. Even if it isn’t the case, some readers will know that the City of London Corporation is run like a private fiefdom. I am tempted to say that this is the last vestige of feudalism in Britain but that would be inaccurate. It is, in effect, the last of the Rotten Boroughs as this blogger points out.

LM cultist and smear artist, Brendan O’Neill chimes in with this poorly-considered blog.  He refers to the occupation as a “warped class war”. This, coming from a man whose own ‘libertarian’ ideas are questionable.

Occupy London does not speak for the 99 per cent or for the working man – on the contrary, it is more an expression of slacker disdain and organic-fuelled fury for the ethos of the ambitious working man

And praytell, how is that, Brendan? He doesn’t explain. Why? Because he’s only interested in twisting reality to conform to his warped ideas of the protests. He panders to his authoritarian readership. Scratch a right libertarian and you will always find a rabid authoritarian and neoliberal shill underneath.

Today Damian Thompson and Hon Tobes both wade in with a smear of the occupiers and Dr Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, who resigned from his post in protest at his bishop’s pandering to pressure to the Cittie parasites who practically run the cathedral. Hon Tobes’ piece is the more dishonest of the two. He claims that Fraser has cost the cathedral “hundreds of thousands of pound in lost revenue”, wilfully ignoring the fact that the admission price alone has been responsible for the decline in numbers visiting the place. The helmet-headed one opines,

Those traditional Anglicans who oppose gay marriage are “narrow-minded puritans seeking to impose their joyless and claustrophobic world-view on the rest of the church“. On it goes – no opportunity for Giles Fraser to air his Left-wing views in the media is ever neglected.

Of course, anyone who disagrees or does not share Hon Tobes’ world view is an “loony lefty”. It’s so pathetically easy, it hurts.

The proprietors of the Telegraph Group are the mysterious Barclay Brothers, who have recently bought Claridges and run their island of Brecqhou like feudal lords. But the tax free status of the Channel Islands isn’t enough for them and they have also claimed residency in tax-free Monaco. Er, come again?

The Barclay brothers own a big chunk of the media, including The Spectator magazine and The Telegraph Group.

Although they are considered philanthropists, having donated over £40 million to medical research, they are also tax exiles. The savings from not paying tax in the UK but Monaco, should more than cover that, and leave enough small change over to pay for a Channel island.

The Brothers own two very influential right wing organs, both of which are pledged to defend and apologise for excesses of casino capitalism.  Therefore it’s fitting that they live in Monaco, the home of high-rollers and tax-dodging self-exiles.

The entrepreneurial siblings may hide themselves away in the Quinlan Terry designed, battlement surrounded, three feet deep walls of the Brecqhou mansion, but they give their address as 7 Avenue de Grande Bretagne, 98000 Monaco.

Avenue de Grande Bretagne, how cute… I’ll bet that makes them feel at home.

UPDATE @ 18.30

Just caught the end of a  BBC News item on Giles Fraser and #OccupyLSX, which the reporter described as a “siege”.

This is a siege.

This is not.

The Guardian have an interview with Dr Fraser here. Apparently St Paul’s is reopening its doors thereby leaving it open to the charge of flip-flopping.

UPDATE: 29/10/11 @ 1807

You know that story in The Telegraph that claimed to use thermal imaging cameras to determine if people were sleeping in the tents at the #OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral? It turns out that you can’t tell if someone is in a tent or not by using thermal imaging. I don’t think the Torygraph will apologise for this blatant lie though. That’s a bit like expecting the Tories to be compassionate.

Here’s the video.

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