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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Tories Tell More Uber Lies

Not content with shilling for driver and rider matching service Uber to the exclusion of all other London taxi and private hire operators - including those whose services can be accessed via an app - the Tories have now gone the whole hog and started to recycle the firm’s propaganda as well. This has not occurred to the gullible hacks at the Evening Standard, where Uber has never been known to do wrong.
So it was that the paper’s City Hall editor Pippa Crerar told readers yesterday'Londoners could end up paying £90m per year on black taxis if Uber appeal fails,' warn Tories”. Do go on. “Londoners could end up paying an extra £90 million a year in black cab fares if Uber’s appeal is unsuccessful, it was claimed today … London Assembly Tories claimed that if a deal was not reached, the consequences for the app’s users could be far-reaching”.

Yes - far-reaching enough for Londoners to realise they don’t need Uber to get around the capital. But where does this dubious-looking figure come from? Here’s the first hint: “The Tory analysis shows that, excluding surge charging, the cost of an average journey by Uber is 40 per cent cheaper that a black cab”. Very good - but surge charging is now a regular feature of Uber journeys, especially at busy time.
Indeed, some drivers have figured out how to induce surge pricing to kick in and therefore make a handy bonus - something for which it is hard to blame them, when many are making so little out of driving around scratching for fares. But there’s more. “With one million Uber journeys a week taken in London, and with black cabs making up 17 per cent of all licensed cars, the report calculated that Londoners would pay an extra £89.5 million a year if they used black cabs instead”. Except that is crap.

As black cabs make up only 17% of all licensed cars, the idea that all Uber customers would switch to them and ignore all the other private hire operators is just fanciful. The reality would be that most would use other private hire services. The additional revenue coming to the taxi trade would be nothing like the £89.5 million claimed.
The Standard also claims that the Tories’ report states “a permanent ban could also affect Uber’s 40,000 drivers, who face lost earnings of £864 million a year”. Two things here. One, if black cabs cost 140% of Uber fares, and £89.5 million is 40% of that 140%, then the 100% of London Uber fares is £224 million. And what the drivers make - 80% of the fare - is £179 million. The Tories’ own figures show they are lying.

And two, the accounts for Uber BV, the company registered in the Netherlands which takes the revenue, or at least most of it, show total 2016 revenue for all their Europe, Middle East and Africa operations of $650,662,000. That’s less than £500 million. Which means the claimed figure of £864 million just for London is yet more lying.
Perhaps Andrew Boff, the Tories’ London Assembly spokesman, got his decimal point in the wrong place. But if he did, then his “£89.5 million extra” claim is wrong, because that, as I’ve shown, gives the lie to that excuse.

London’s Tories would be more convincing with their Uber propaganda if only they could get their figures straight. But they can’t. So they won’t be convincing anyone.

Guido Fawked - OECD Fear Smear BUSTED

After the OECD passed adverse comment on Britain’s future outside the EU this week, the usual suspects out there on the right have been lining up to say how these foreign think tank chappies just don’t know what they’re talking about, how Britain is one of the world’s largest economies, and how we will get along fine if we just ignore their advice.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears, thanks

In the vanguard of this movement have been the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, where newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham has become so over-excited with himself that he has veered across the dishonesty line in no style at all to deliver a pack of lies that is, even for his outpourings, all too easy to pick apart. He titles his latest rubbishA Look At Some Of The OECD’s Previous Forecasts”.

The usual suspects are going mad about the OECD’s provocative claim that only having a second referendum and reversing Brexit will save the British economy from apocalypse” he tells, except that the OECD has not said that. As the BBC has reported, “Reversing the Brexit process would boost the UK economy, the international economic body, the OECD has said … A new referendum or a change of government leading to the UK staying within the EU would have a ‘significant’ positive impact on growth, the OECD said … It also warned ‘no deal’ would see investment seize up, the pound hit new lows and the UK's credit rating cut”. This part of Wickham’s propaganda is, though, merely misleading.
But he soon gets on to the downright lies: “This is an organisation that said the UK would receive ‘great benefits’ from joining the ERM”. You missed a word out, Alex. The OECD talked of “potentially great” benefits. And the OECD cannot be held responsible for “Shagger” Major shadowing the Deutschmark at an unsustainably high exchange rate.

Have another go. “They recommended we join the Euro”. Not even the Daily Mail has tried that one. Their best shot today isIn 1999, it said ‘the introduction of the Euro delivers a number of benefits’ and was understood to be keen that Britain … adopted the single currency”. So that’s two lies already. Could he make it three?

As if you need to ask. “They said there would be an immediate ‘major negative shock’ in the event of a Leave vote”. No they didn’t: as the OECD itself told, and the BBC accurately reported, the phrase “major negative shock” was not preceded by “immediate”. Indeed, we were told “By 2020, GDP would be over 3% smaller than otherwise (with continued EU membership)”. The OECD was talking of what would happen over a 3 year period.
And the UK economy has indeed been slowing relative to those of other EU countries, with Eurozone countries growing twice as fast as Britain’s for the first six months of this year. Wickham has once again been caught lying in his attempts to put the boot in on someone bringing inconvenient information. Even his post update is misleading.

Also worth noting that even the OCED’s most doom-laden predictions now still predict the economy will grow in the event of no deal”. Bugger all use if our neighbours’ economies grow more rapidly and we get consigned to the economic slow lane.

The Fawkes rabble can’t even lie convincingly. Another fine mess, once again.

Nadine Dorries Brexit Terror Hypocrisy

The Brexit negotiations appear stalled. More and more MPs, and not just those in the Labour Party, are coming round to the idea that a “no deal” outcome would be bad for Britain, so bad that even if they’re Tories, they could conceivably end up either not voting for that, or even voting against it. With Theresa May enjoying the slimmest of majorities, and then only with DUP support, nerves are starting to fray.
Nowhere can this be seen to greater advantage than in the world inhabited by (yes, it’s her again) Mid Bedfordshire’s representative Nadine Dorries, whose detachment from reality and tendency to say things that are not true are legion. Ms Dorries has been reading the latest outpourings of Conservative Home and taking it as immutable truth, rather than the passing of opinion which may or may not prove true in future.

Here, it is assertedthat provision for this outcome [no deal] was written into the manifesto on which every Conservative MP stood. (‘The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’)”. That’s a bit of a stretch - what the manifesto doesn’t say is what will be done in the event of no deal being reached.
But the fragrant Nadine knows that this is not only bankable truth, but that those lining up against such an outcome are guilty of the gravest treachery. “Shame on colleagues who've joined forces with terrorist sympathisers. If they vote against Gov; their whip should be removed permanently” she blustered. Who may these “terrorist sympathisers” be? Would this be another of those routine defamations of the Labour Party?

Moreover, she’s got a nerve to demand others have the whip withdrawn, after her high profile excursion into that territory herself - she went off to Australia to pretend she was a celebrity and spend a few days eating intimate parts of ostriches. But this was only a small part of her hypocrisy: Ms Dorries appears to have forgotten who that small group of DUP MPs propping up her beloved Tories actually represent.
As the Irish News has previously told, “The DUP party has been criticised in the past for sharing platforms with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries … In 1996, former MP Rev William McCrea stood at a Portadown rally alongside LVF leader Billy Wright … The ruthless paramilitary group, which split from the UVF in 1996, was responsible for high-profile murders including the killing of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick”.
There was more. “The father of the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly, who has just won the South Belfast seat, is Noel Little, a Co Armagh loyalist and founder of Ulster Resistance … Little was one of three men arrested in Paris in 1989 in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns”. Oh dear, Ms Dorries!

Perhaps she should have taken the advice in one of her earlier Tweets: “Deleted last tweet - possibility that I may have missed it. Sure I must have blinked at some point”. Missed that she has no room to call “terrorist sympathisers” on anyone. Because she and her pals are in bed with terrorist sympathisers.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Uber - Tory Interference BUSTED

After Transport for London declined to renew the operator’s licence for driver and rider matching service Uber, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth out there on the right. The Tories attempted to personalise that refusal, claiming that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had not been involved in Uber’s licence renewal application, was personally behind the decision, along with anyone else connected with the Labour Party.
There was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. TfL had made its decision for several reasons, mainly to do with Uber’s inability to play by the rules and keep its punters safe. But in Tory fairyland, rules are for the little people, and not allowed to get in the way of the entrepreneurs and their disruptive technology. Oh, and cheap prices, not that they’re cheapskates.

This was backed up by a petition - not a petition to get Uber to abide by the rules, sadly, but one supporting its wish to just carry on as if nothing had happened. The petition, as I noted earlier, was titled “GIVE LONDON A CHOICE”. It showed that Sadiq Khan was the baddy, and valiant Uber was definitely the goody. The thought that there was plenty of choice out there without Uber was not allowed to enter.

And there it might have stayed, except the Tories are now ramping up their shameless shilling for Uber. Mere online petitions were just the start: now has come a capital-wide leafletting campaign. You think I jest? Two upstanding Tories have taken to Twitter to tell the world about their part in this propagandising.
Take Dinah Glover, who claims that Black Cabs don’t have working card machines (wrong), that they won’t take people to Greenford (wrong), that there were “122 rapes by taxis and other PH drivers” (wrong), and that Uber cars are statistically safer (laughably wrong). For her, the lousy accident record, the tax avoidance, the VAT avoidance, the poverty pay of many drivers, the predatory pricing, and the increasingly poor customer service are as nothing. She is leafletting for choice. Or something.
Off out to deliver 'Give Londoners the Choice' leaflet #Uber, providing 40,000 jobs & serving 3.5m customers” she told her followers. She was not alone. Kirsty Finlayson also asserted “Record no. leaflets delivered in #Whitechapel tonight - 'Give Londoners the Choice' 40k jobs and 3.5m customers”. She claims to be a Tory Parliamentary Candidate.

Quite apart from the “40,000 jobs and 3.5m customers” exaggeration - many of those customers are occasional ones, and Uber claim, let’s not forget, that they don’t have employees - I have a question for these august Tory supporters of alleged choice.
Why is a political party blatantly canvassing for one company? Seriously - there are other app based private hire providers in London, so why only Uber? If this were about choice, there would be no need to specify one company. When did the Tories last shill for one car manufacturer, one coach firm, one train operator, one airline? And while they’re at it, perhaps we could have an assurance that there is no quid pro quo on offer, too.

The ripe smell emanating from CCHQ needs addressing. And then it needs explaining.

Dan, Dan The Colonial Revision Man

As the Brexit negotiations continue to show that they are, for Theresa May and her embattled Government, a campaign turning out not necessarily to their advantage, so those who would oppose the EU to the ends of the earth have stepped up their own campaign, which consists mainly of lots of Vision And Boundless Hope And Optimism, together with plenty of Preventive Incantation when it all fouls up.
Showing the way forward in this endeavour, by making his own pointless gesture, is that occasional paragon of trust and honesty Dan, Dan the Oratory Man. Hannan has decided that if you’re going to pull a whopper, you might as well make it a spectacular one, and so has Tweeted to all his adoring followersWhat made us the world's richest nation? We removed trade barriers and so put money into ordinary people's pockets”.
This is the most wilful misrepresentation of British economic history that has emerged since the last wilful Hannan episode. And some of the comments posted in response show why he is talking out of the back of his neck. “Nothing to do with robbing gold from half the world? Or shelling our way into trade networks? Facile, simplistic and wrong-headed rubbish” was the first serious riposte. And there was a lot more.
Backing up drug dealers with gunboats and forcing opium on China? Free, that was” … “All under the guns of the British Army and Royal Navy” … “we reduced trade barriers at a time when we were the only significant industrial power. We are far from that now” were a few. And then came the telling “There were still plenty of internal tariffs within the Empire - particularly as far as colonial manufacturing was concerned”.
How free and fair was that? “We forced India to remove tariffs on UK made cloth, but kept tariffs on Indian cloth. Until Indian cloth industry went under”. Hannan is talking total guff about the supposed removal of trade barriers. Successive British Governments manipulated the rules of the game to their own advantage; some enriched themselves as a result. But the idea that this was free trade without barriers is nonsense.
Still, on he droned, about a meeting he opened in the City. “Alexander Downer: ‘Name one free-trading country that’s poor’. Jorge Quiroga calls on Britain to lead the world to liberalisation”. Haiti. Want some more? How about Armenia? Not to mention the occasional incidence of failed states here and there. And the USA is, overall, well-off, but is not free trading by any means (pace Bombardier).
Not going too well, was it? There was always the chance of a “look over there” moment, and Dan duly took it: “We finish with a visit to Gatcombe Park, where David Ricardo devised the mind-blowing idea of comparative advantage precisely 200 years ago”. When the Bank of England had not yet become a lender of last resort, modern transportation systems had yet to develop, and a purveyor of the Dismal Science whose work has since been succeeded by Marshall, Keynes and others. Yeah, right.

Daniel Hannan might not live the the real world. But the rest of us have to, thanks.

Football Lads Alliance INFILTRATED

Claims by those involved in the Football Lads Alliance that the group is about protesting all forms of extremism, and not just another bunch of Islamophobes, have been broadcast long and loud since the gathering and march in London recently. Organisers have sought to distance themselves from the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. But all this has already been in vain.
Lennon has declared that, as he claims to be a journalist - not sure many real journalists will agree with that one - he will continue to turn up at FLA gatherings, whether they like it or not. Worse for them, he has already shown that the FLA is riven with Islamophobia, Tweeting “Every lad that I spoke to yesterday was there to oppose Islam”.
And it wasn’t just Lennon and his anti-Islam views: there was also the Pie And Mash Squad. Who they? Well, this is yet another anti-Islam group. To quote Rational Wiki, “Officially, it is non-racist and peaceful; in practice, it is ultimately just the English Defence League all over again … The group is closely tied to football fandom, identifying itself as ‘uniting the UK’s football tribes against the Jihadists’ … The Casuals United blog praises Enoch Powell: ‘Who still thinks Enoch Powell was wrong? Only left wing anti white morons’, it says”. They were at the FLA gathering, too.
We know this as their Twitter feed has posted several images from the day, including one with the comment “FLA Veterans Against Terrorism Whitehall London”. The Cenotaph is clearly visible in the right background. Can it get worse still? Sadly, yes it can.
Far Right Watch has identified a genuine neo-Nazi as having participated: “A key 'name' in ‘We're not violent’ @lads_alliance is Frank Portinari, convicted weapons smuggler to Irish terrorists & member of Combat18”. Portinari was part of the Loyalist paramilitary UDA. He ran a website supporting former terrorists. So what has the FLA done after being informed that those outside its ranks know the kinds of people involved?
They have at least come clean and admitted he was involved, but now claim he has been “removed”. But what about his presence, and all the others, in the first place, as well as the Islamophobic hatred on their Facebook group? This was the reply: “All our platforms are managed appropriately … We will have 100,000 on the next one … People are simply fed up buddy. Realise that Jesus”. We realise who Combat 18 are, thanks.
Well, considering they claimed there had been 70,000 in London, where it turned out to be more like 10,000, those numbers can be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. But what is already clear is that the FLA is already riven with infiltration - by individuals and groups who have an agenda that is variously Islamophobic, racist, neo-Nazi … and not at all peaceably minded. The protestations of innocence will just not wash.

Thanks to Far Right Watch, and those who have already infiltrated the FLA, we now know the exact nature of this beast. And so does anyone thinking of joining their cause.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Uber Britannia - You’re Having A Laugh

The disconnect between the revenue and profit declared in the UK by driver and rider matching service Uber is something that Zelo Street has covered recently - at least, the figures declared for its operation in London. From this, it was clear that tax avoidance on a significant scale was going on, with much of the revenue, and all of the VAT, either not being paid, or being paid elsewhere. So what of the rest of the country?
Uber has some sort of presence in around 70 towns and cities across the UK. These come under the aegis of a company called Uber Britannia Ltd., which has recently made its accounts available. These show so little revenue that it is clear someone is having a laugh with the authorities. Worse, those figures suggest Uber cannot possibly be maintaining an office in many of those towns and cities where it now operates.

How so? Consider the numbers for 2016: revenue has increased from just over £376,000 to over £1,021,100. After administration expenses of just over £941,000, that leaves a paltry £80,000 in operating profit before tax. And Uber Britannia is paying a mere £13,212 in Corporation Tax. This company is operating in around 70 towns and cities, and has around 10,000 drivers on its books, yet its profits are no more than £80,000.

Averaged out, it means a typical Uber operation outside London is making no more than just over £1,000 in profit. But it’s when the administration costs are broken down that we see the real mickey-taking being done here. Those total just over £941,000 - now divide that up between those 70 operations and you get little more than £13,000 each. A town or city can run its Uber operation for just over £13,000 - for a whole year?
Where is the office located that takes the bookings and then farms them out to drivers? For just over £13,000 a year, there isn’t one. But you know why that might be - the app does not need there to be an office. That, as Uber’s cheerleaders out there on the right will happily tell you, is so 20th Century. The inconvenient fact, that it’s part of the rules, does not, for Uber, seem to matter. For their mindset, the end justifies the means.

Where is all the revenue going that those 10,000 drivers generate? But you know the answer to that one as well. Either they’re getting not unadjacent to stuff all, or they aren’t getting it via Uber Britannia. If that gross revenue amount of £1,021,000 represents the 20% cut from 10,000 drivers, those drivers are averaging no more than £400 each. They would have to make sixty to eighty times that just to stay afloat.

As in London, most of the drivers’ income is not appearing on a UK Uber balance sheet. It’s being channelled through Uber BV, a company based in the Netherlands, which enables Uber to be, as the spin goes, more tax efficient. So while all those black cab drivers shell out their taxes, Uber ponies up no more in profit for 70 town and city operations than that gathered from a dozen proper taxis.

The bending of the rules beyond their limit of elasticity by Uber is not confined to London. And they expect TfL to just wave them back into the capital because they’re cheap and popular? Someone here is having a laugh. And that’s not good enough.

Sven’s Fake Sheikh Revenge

The activities of Mazher Mahmood, aka the “Fake Sheikh”, have featured previously on Zelo Street, especially after he was caught lying over the attempted sting of singer Tulisa Contostavlos and the case collapsed. Maz went to jail for that one, and ever since, there has been a slowly mounting pile of evidence suggesting several of the convictions obtained through his stings were unsafe and should be set aside.
Worse for Maz were the estimated £800 million worth of civil claims likely to arise from his past pretence to being a journalist, rather than “a criminal with an NUJ card”. Watching all this unfold have been people like John Alford, whose potential ruin Maz and his pals were caught on camera laughing about, as a result of the sting which ended his acting career. For the Fake Sheikh’s crew, finishing a career was all a big game for them.

Well, the civil claims against Maz are getting into their stride right now, with one of the first beneficiaries being former England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson. We know this as the Mail has actually reported it - although in the Sport section. Their piece tells “Sven-Goran Eriksson has received a damages pay-out over the sting which he says was the reason for his five-year tenure as England manager ending”. And there is more.

The 69-year said he had won a civil claim over undercover News of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood’s ‘Fake Sheikh’ sting on him in 2006. The Swede did not disclose the level of damages but told Sportsmail that the damages against Mahmood - who was jailed 12 months ago for perverting the course of justice - could not fully compensate him for the loss of ‘the best job you can have’”. The story was familiar to Maz watchers.
Mahmood met Eriksson on a boat in Dubai in January 2006 and recorded him saying he would leave to manage Aston Villa if England won the World Cup in Germany later that year … The FA announced within weeks that he would leave his job after the 2006 World Cup … The former executive director of the FA, David Davies, said in his autobiography that the governing body’s chief executive Brian Barwick was determined to announce after the controversy that Eriksson would be parting company with England”.

Sven was positively restrained in his response to the Fake Sheikh sting: “We won the case but I lost my job. They did it to put me in big, big trouble before the World Cup. You have to respect the press. It’s good that they can write what they want to. But that made [me] sad and angry and I lost my job. It took a year but we won our case”.

Football watchers, who will have heard all the excuses advanced for the Murdochs, including all the money they have brought to the English game, may manage a wry smile at the same organisation setting out to deliberately hobble the national side in this way. Others will have already figured out that Eriksson’s settlement, if it had to take into account his loss of both earnings and marketability, will have been a big one.

And press reform campaigners will once again point out that Mazher Mahmood’s close relationship with the Police, along with his unprincipled dishonesty, is another compelling reason why Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry must be commenced without further delay.

Monty’s Marr Bias Claim BUSTED

After the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun claimed that the BBC exhibited bias in the way they selected guests for Sunday programmes like The Andy Marr Show (tm), and raised very little interest, even from their fellow travellers in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, their cause needed someone to make a suitably pointless gesture in support. They did not have long to wait.
Yes, you've fouled up yet again, Monty

The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker were duly rewarded: cometh the hour, cometh the clueless pundit, as Tim Montgomerie performed his customary party trick of shooting from the hip without doing his homework, and ended up covered in rather more than confusion. His first mistake was to take the Sun’s claims as data, which as any fule kno, is never a good idea. But off he tweeted anyway.
Showing the Sun’s graphic, Monty sneered “BBC ‘balance’”. The Marr Show’s long-suffering editor Rob Burley attempted to reason with him: “I can believe, Tim, that you endorse this. It counts Benedict Cumberbatch as a Remain supporter. He was talking about acting. It's nonsense”. No, that didn’t impress: “That’s one person, one stat. What about the tens/hundreds of others?”. David Aaronovitch then joined in.
That’s for you to answer Tim. Have you seen the breakdown? Is it reliable?”. What say Monty to that? “I watch #Marr. It’s the same pre-referendum, anti-Brexit types, still dominant”. Kevin Schofield of Politics Home joined the fray. “Like Richard Tice, Chris Grayling (and John McDonnell!)?” And then The Great Man sold the pass: “Anecdote is not data Kevin”. YOU JUST USED ANECDOTE YOURSELF. Doh!
Meanwhile, Gerry Hassan had an interesting point: “For these figures is John McDonnell counted in pro-EU or Brexit groups? Really should be a dont know [group] for likes of him & Corbyn”. Burley replied “The Sun count McDonnell - who argues for Brexit now - as Remain”. Monty blundered in: “Correctly. Since the elxn, Labour is attempting to play politics above the #euref instruction”. What “instruction”? A non-binding referendum?
Aaronovitch had seen enough. “If McDonnell is counted as anti-Brexit then the whole exercise is utter bollocks, Tim. Whoever did it should be ashamed”. All Monty could do was to fall back on quoting from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - that Corbyn said he would vote Remain now. But Corbyn was not the subject of the discussion - McDonnell was. Aaronovitch had one last try.
The question concerned McDonnell. [And] you willl have seen Dennis Skinner’s recent unequivocal assertion that Corbyn will have been for Brexit”. The Sun’s selective use of information was not convincing Monty’s fellow pundits and writers. But perhaps this was nothing more than The Great Man getting tetchy at not having been invited on the Marr Show paper review as often as he believes is merited.

Whatever the reasoning, Tim Montgomerie has once again proved himself to be the Austen Chamberlain of the punditerati: “He always played the game, and he always lost”.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Brexit - Tomorrow’s Spin Today

While many politics watchers digest today’s exhibition of punditry and interviewing, those spinning against any form of accommodation with the EU have been honing tomorrow’s press agenda, which will then be taken up by the broadcasters, in some cases without questioning its reasoning or veracity. And that’s just what those stirring this particular pot want - because tomorrow’s EU storyline is built on sand.
No John, it's THEM targeting YOU

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was subjected to the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm), where he declared that his party would not countenance what is being described as a “No deal Brexit”, a fall-back to WTO rules on tariffs. His stance was clear: to remain in the room - just as Mrs T did so many times, let’s not forget - and negotiate a deal beneficial to both ourselves and the EU27 countries.
Behold the all-powerful dispenser of editorial lines to take

That sounds a straightforward and reasonably principled stance. But for those out there on the right, who have the connections to the press, it is nothing more than something to be twisted and spun to suit their ends. So it was that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog duly twisted and span. This included both their current and former members, as well as one suitably clueless hanger-on.
He certainly is

After McDonnell declared he would not countenance “no deal”, out came the Fawkes whopper: “Labour would accept any EU deal, however punishing. Great negotiating tactic guys”. No, he didn’t say that. But that is the line being pushed to their press pals taking shape right there. It also chimes with the petulant snippiness of Staines’ former tame gofer, the flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, now at the Murdoch Sun.
The lie is told ...

Observer calls for UK to sign a blank cheque to Brussels and abandon Brits living on continent for fear of upsetting EU. Pathetic” he whined at a paper voicing opinions inconvenient to him. There was no talk of a blank cheque, and none of abandoning Brits in other EU member states. That’s just lying, plain and simple. But that is how the right-wing Europhobic mindset works. Paranoia and outrage are the currencies in play here.
... it gets added to a similar lie ...

This line is already being taken up by supposedly mainstream pundits, including the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has asked “Why isn't Marr pointing out if McDonnell won't countenance no deal it means accepting whatever EU demands”, even though he forgot the question mark (again).
... and the resulting Kool-Aid is duly imbibed

The dishonesty and stupidity here is plain to see - Hodges is a former Trade Union official, so knows the difference between “negotiation”, which McDonnell stressed in his Marr Show interview, and “submission”, which is what he is assuming. But he is also a close acquaintance of The Great Guido and a paid-up member of the Pundit Establishment.

Later this week, you will see the anti-EU right-wing assert repeatedly that Labour would accept any deal, suck up any punishment meted out, sign any blank cheque supposedly demanded by Brussels. And after one paper has run the claim, especially if it’s a major seller like the Sun or Mail, it will rapidly become received wisdom.

Of course, our free and fearless press could just stop taking their stories from self-interested liars and their otherwise clueless hangers-on. But that might involve doing some proper journalism, and for too many in the Fourth Estate, that will just not do.

Julia Hartley Dooda’s Weinstein Meltdown

As if being reduced to a laughing stock after claiming live on air that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond should be tried for treason were not enough, self-promotion artist Julia Hartley Brewer has decided, of her own volition, to double down and make herself look even worse, such is the insatiable appetite for attention of those who would be best advised not going round and openly seeking to attract it.
We all know who you are, thanks

Ms Hartley Dooda’s schtick is, as with so many of the Pundit Establishment, to first ask what the hot topic du jour may be, and duly declare herself to be an expert in the field. The pitfalls of such an approach should be obvious but, well, if at first you don’t succeed, then just go right ahead and suck some more seed instead.
So it was that she weighed up the situation, assessed the actual evidence to hand, and disregarded most of it in favour of saying something that would bring More And Better Attention Opportunities For Herself Personally Now. “If I were a Hollywood starlet & I didn't have my own sordid story to tell about Harvey Weinstein, I'd probably make one up now” she trilled, thereby pissing off rather more than Hollywood starlets.
Would Madam care to retract and say sorry for that outburst? You jest. After Quartz told their followers “Almost no one has been thanked at the Oscars more than Harvey Weinstein”, Ms Hartley Dooda decided this meant there was a cover-up, asserting “Everyone knew. And everyone joined in the cover up”. The inconvenient fact, that Weinstein had been involved in a lot of successful films, was not allowed to enter.
No, she was sure they all knew. And just to let anyone still awake know that she knew this, we were told “Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the Academy board because we all now know what they've all known & didn't care about for decades”. So how does she fare on something like, oh I dunno, phone hacking? Is there the same certainty that they all knew it was going on (clue: they all did know what was going on)?
Guess what’s coming. Yes, in an exchange last year with the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire, she tried to equate the deeds of Damian McBride to those of Andy Coulson: “but Damian's misdeeds were while he was in Labour govt's employ, Coulson's were for different employer. Different”. Yes, different is the word. McBride may have defamed someone - Coulson got guilty of breaking the law and went to jail.
And before you ask, Leveson was an irrelevance, because she said so. Meanwhile, how to keep on kicking all those who she claimed had covered up for Harvey Weinstein? That was a tricky one, until Ms Hartley Dooda read Piers Morgan’s latest thoughts. “This is the same Academy that happily awarded an Oscar to Roman Polanski, who raped a 13 year old girl”. Yep, blame Roman Polanski. That’ll convince, er, nobody.

Julia Hartley Dooda has offended countless victims of sexual assault and worse. On top of that, she’s made accusations of a cover-up she’ll never be able to prove. But this further display of idiocy means she’s still getting attention. And that’s all that matters.