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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Customs Union - Tories Ready To Cave In

What will emerge from the Brexit negotiations we do not know, other than that it will demonstrate superbly the strength of the negotiating hand played by the EU, and the weakness of that deployed by the UK. But what we do know from events thus far is that all those great expectations of the immediate post-Article 50 days are slowly but surely being dashed, as reality takes hold. And that situation is about to get much worse.
The drive to enter what was then the EEC came from business; likewise, the drive to divert the Tories away from anything resembling cliff-edge “Hard Brexit” has also come from that direction. Business abhors any prospect of obstacles to carrying on, well, business as usual. And for the most part, that means keeping rules and regulations aligned with our largest trading partner - the rest of the Single Market.

Moreover, if we are to achieve alignment with the rest of the Single Market, that means steering well away from anything that would get in the way of “frictionless” free trade. So it also means remaining in some kind of Customs Union. As there already is a Customs Union, and we are already in that Union, it would make sense to all those businesses for the UK to remain part of it. And it would sort the Irish border issue.
But, the response would inevitably come, what about the potential split in the Tory Party? Two things here. One, the Tories know that, with Jeremy Corbyn waiting in the wings, it’s either Theresa May’s road, or no road. And two, “British prime minister Theresa May’s team has privately admitted she might have to accept Permanent membership of the EU customs union”. Not just that, the Tories have gamed the potential fallout.

Their conclusion? “It follows a secret wargaming exercise which concluded, according to the report, that even Brexiteers such as Michael Gove and David Davis would not resign in protest. However, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox would be likely to quit”. Fox is expendable and should never have been allowed back into cabinet. Whether Gove stays and Bozza goes is less certain - but Rupert Murdoch needs his man at the top table.
Business Insider has expanded on the news: “The prime minister and her Cabinet have repeatedly promised that Britain will leave the EU Customs Union and not join any similar arrangement [but Theresa] May's senior advisers now privately concede that a U-turn could be inevitable with one reportedly telling a meeting last month that the prime minister and her top team ‘will not be crying into our beer’ if they are forced to think again about cutting customs ties with the EU”. There will, of course, be further opposition.

The member for times long past Jacob Rees Mogg will be appalled at such ghastly news, but what’s he going to do, join UKIP? Andrew Bridgen is opposed, but then, who cares? Most likely is that the PM’s team has played out all the options and concluded that this is the one where she has the least chance of being toppled.
There is, of course, a far better option than to keep on trying to achieve the great Brexit dream and continuing to fail miserably, and that is to realise that to do so would screw over the entire country - so the best choice would be one that does not actually involve leaving the EU. Especially as the legitimacy of the vote is now looking increasingly shaky.

As for the press - well, they have to go with Ms May. Or they, too, are screwed.

Corbyn Being Ousted - OR NOT

What Owen Jones said last week about the Press and Pundit Establishment - and by doing so prompted a Twitter pile-on of previously unseen proportions - was most likely intended to provoke, but at its core was true: “The main thing I've learned from working in the British media is that much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit”.
And the groupthink that he described includes the predictable and worrying tendency for some in the media bubble to see something because they want it to be there, to be true. Couple that to the demands of editors and proprietors, and you arrive at the myth that dictates that the Labour Party is about to ditch its leader.

You read that right. Jeremy Corbyn is more secure right now than any other leader of a significantly sized political party in Britain. But such is the desperate state of the Tory Party that the right-wing press wants, needs to believe that Jezza is so vulnerable that he is likely to be deposed. The alternative - another snap General Election where his campaign delivers the kind of vote share increase that would put him in No 10 - is unthinkable.

So we arrive at the latest offering by the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, under the Ron Hopeful headline “As anxiety grows over his woeful performance, it's the astonishing question his loyal lieutenants are starting to whisper... Can we cut Corbyn out of Corbynism?

Did anyone see that “woeful performance”? Desperate Dan did. “Corbyn appeared in the House on five major occasions [last week]. Each one was a personal catastrophe, and a tortuous trial for his allies”. Anyone else see that? No, me neither.

But for Hodges, “the defining moment came in Tuesday’s dramatic debate on anti-Semitism. As MP after MP described in harrowing detail their treatment at the hands of the thuggish army of Corbynite red-shirts, Corbyn rose and walked out, literally turning his back on those recounting their contemporary experience of an ancient hatred”.
He's desperate, Dan

His problem is that much of what was described was not at the hands of anyone in Labour, and some of it - like John Mann’s self-serving idiocy - detracted from the debate so severely as to harm the drive to stamp out anti-Semitism. Hodges saw this “From my position in the parliamentary press gallery”, but what he saw was what he wanted to see.

He whined about Ed Miliband - somehow missing the anti-Semitic attacks on the former Labour leader from his own sister paper, and elsewhere, like from his pals at the Guido Fawkes blog - and now he is whining about Corbyn. But those believing this drivel need to stop and think. Hodges said Corbyn would not become Labour leader. He said Remain would win the EU referendum. He claimed Hillary Clinton would win the US Presidential election. And he predicted that Theresa May would achieve a 100+ majority last year.

Moreover, Hodges’ article - all of it - names no sources, invokes no citation in support, perhaps because those loyal to Jezza won’t give him the time of day. But he so wants the story he pitches to be true, because that’s what his editor thinks the MoS’ readers want to hear, and because, yes, of that suffocating groupthink. Owen Jones was right.

Tories Resurrect Jim Crow

While most of our free and fearless press tries to limit the damage to Theresa May and her less than totally merry band, and takes the scandal of the Windrush Generation off the front pages, the hint of racism is proving difficult to mask after the inconvenient introduction by the Observer of a story about another highly divisive measure - this time on the exercising of democracy itself. And the impression given is deeply unfortunate.
Voter suppression is one of those live rail issues: it is somewhere politicians have been most reluctant to go, and with good reason. Attempts to disenfranchise part of the population inevitably smacks of the era of Jim Crow in the southern United States. Those disenfranchised were inevitably African-Americans; only with the 1965 Voting Rights Act was the racism of Jim Crow finally shown the door.

But now, hard on the heels of the Windrush Generation scandal, has come something that sounds horribly like Jim Crow in another guise. In another example of what looks ominously like the making of policy by the Murdoch and Rothermere press, the Tories’ plans to force voters in next month’s local elections to provide ID before they are allowed to vote have come under fire, for their implicit racial bias.

This is not mere scaremongering: as the Observer report tells, “the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, raising its serious concern that the checks will deter immigrants and others from participating in the democratic process”. Why might that be?

Under the new government voting rules, being trialled in several local authorities at the 3 May local elections, people will be asked at polling stations to produce documents proving their identity - such as a passport or driving licence - before casting their vote. Currently, no such proof is required. The Windrush scandal has highlighted how many who came to this country from the Caribbean, mainly in the late 1950s, have struggled to prove their British citizenship because the authorities failed to register them or destroyed their landing cards, or because they have never applied for documents such as passports”.
Anyone who the authorities failed to register, and who never applied for a passport or needed to drive a car, would fall foul of the new law. That leads directly back to the Windrush Generation - who were British when they came to the UK, and if they arrived before 1972, are therefore still British now. Hence the taint of racism.

The EHRC’s legal officer has highlighted those likely to be affected: “The Commission is concerned that the requirement to produce identification … will have a disproportionate impact on voters with protected characteristics, particularly older people, transgender people, people with disabilities and/or those from ethnic minority communities. In essence, there is a concern that some voters will be disenfranchised as a result of restrictive identification requirements”. That’ why the Sun and Mail are keeping schtum.

And that’s why this stirs memories of Jim Crow. Coming on the back of Theresa May and Amber Rudd presiding over a Home Office prepared to deport British Citizens because, effectively, they were black, it looks very bad - because it is very bad.

We are seeing discrimination sneaked in by the back door. And that’s not good enough.

Top Six - April 22

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have domestic clear-up to do later. So there.
6 Murdoch Press Defames Academic The increasingly downmarket Times smeared someone working in academia, in another very deliberate attack on anyone not agreeing the Government line on events in Syria.

5 Karen Danczuk Engagement IS OVER The engagement so widely promoted in the press has run its course as her pal moved out and returned to Spain.

4 Rasputin Destroys Himself Nick Timothy waded in on behalf of his old boss Theresa May, but ended up flouncing off Twitter after he was caught lying - and made things much worse for the Tories.

3 Tory Candidate Says Kill All Gays One of next month’s local election hopefuls has told his followers that the Bible has one punishment for homosexuality - death. Should go down a storm at the polling booth.

2 John Mann MP - We Have To Talk The thuggish and intemperate behaviour exhibited by the Labour MP for Bassetlaw has demeaned the campaign to tackle anti-Semitism.

1 Wetherspoon Social Media Exit BUSTED The news that the pub chain was leaving many social media platforms was backed up with the lamest of excuses. The reality is that their customer email database had been used to help the referendum Leave campaign.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

UKIP Endorses Tommy Robinson

The remaining membership of that motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP has recently agreed that their interim leader Gerard Batten would hold the post permanently. Batten has now declared that the Kippers are no longer in financial trouble, although exactly how this has been achieved is not told. But what is clear is that the party needs new members, and needs them quickly.
I em not a racialist, but, und zis is a big but ...

At next month’s local elections, UKIP will not stand candidates in many contests. The party is expected to be all but wiped out after results have been declared, not helped by a series of defections and resignations along the way. Worse, the far-right has been making inroads into UKIP support. So Adolf von Batten has decided to cosy up to them, although perhaps he should read the party’s rules first.
These state “Membership is not available to anyone who is or has previously been a member of the British National Party, the National Front, the UK First party, the English Defence League, the British Freedom Party, British People’s Party and the Britain First Party (or any other parties or organisations later added to the proscribed list). Any applications made from people who are or have been members of these organisations will be refused, and any subscriptions collected will be refunded. By making an application for membership, the applicant certifies that he is not and has never been a member of either of these parties”. So what has Batten’s response been?
Simples. He has decided to cosy up to Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. Lennon brings a considerable following to the table, but he also has significant baggage: founder of the EDL, a criminal record which includes convictions for violence and fraud, and an ability to be highly economical with the actualité.
None of this appears to have fazed Batten, who has given Lennon his endorsement by sitting down for an interview, the culmination of his own long march towards intolerance, typified by assertions such as “A substantial ‘majority’ know multiculturalism has failed. A multi-racial society works where all share a common loyalty to their nation and its institutions, political & legal etc. But multiculturalism means competing groups with different agendas”. Loyalty. Isolating the disloyal. But not Jews. Yet.
Who might be “disloyal”? Ah, but he has an answer to that, too: “‘Grooming gangs’ is a euphemism for sex slavery, practiced on ‘Kaffir’ girls who are considered less than human & fair game. Justified by the perpetrators because the teachings of the sex predator & sadist who invented their religion”. Inflammatory hate speech, as well.
Who does he follow in such matters? “This talk by Mark Steyn is absolutely brilliant as a critique of modern Britain. It’s nearly half an hour but well worth listening to”. Steyn is another bigot, who claims that everyone in Europe will soon be living in a continent he calls “Eurabia”. Steyn, who likes to talk about “breeding”, falls back on the same excuse as Lennon: “My book isn't about what I want to happen but what I think will happen”.
Only telling it like it is. Not racist, because Islam is a religion, innit? It’s only “the truth”. Some of their best friends are brown and black. And Jewish.

UKIP is now heading inexorably to the irrelevance of the far-right fringe. Good thing too.

Far-Right Bigot Says Enoch Was Right

You get cornered by some drunken greengrocer from Luton with an Instamatic camera and Dr. Scholl sandals and last Tuesday's Daily Express and he drones on and on about how Mr. Smith should be running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up over the Cuba Libres” - Mr Smoke Too Much (Eric Idle), Travel Agent Sketch, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Enoch Powell

As if the supposed “re-evaluation” of Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 speech on race which got him kicked off the Tory front bench and on to the long road out of mainstream politics were not enough validation for those out on the far-right, one of their newer recruits has decided to do his own revisiting of the Powell myth: step forward Raheem “Call me Ray” Kassam, of the convocation of the irredeemably batshit otherwise known as Breitbart.

Kassam, an appallingly immodest individual with much to be modest about, has demonstrated that, when it comes to self-publicity, honesty is one of the first casualties in his battle to score More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now - starting at the very beginning: “Breitbart London Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam has announced a new book after years of study of former Member of Parliament Enoch Powell”.

So what is on offer? “The book ‘Enoch Was Right: Rivers of Blood 50 Years On’ confronts some of the most heinous lies from the establishment media over the life of Powell, as well as what Kassam calls their ‘willful misrepresentation’ of his infamous Birmingham Speech … In the book, Kassam demolishes the left-wing arguments which claim Powell was a ‘racist’, and demonstrates how for the late-MP, it was all about ‘numbers’”.
Would you buy a book written by him? Nope, me neither

This is total crap. For starters, there can be no doubt about what Powell said in that speech, as the full text has been available online for more than a decade. Moreover, the first assertion that Powell had made what was at the time characterised as a “racialist” speech was not made by someone on the “left-wing”, but Ted Heath - the then leader of the Tory Party and future Prime Minister.

Nonetheless, Kassam has declared “I’ve never been able to understand the demonisation of Enoch Powell, so I decided to study the man and his public pronouncements. It has taken me years to get to this point, as opposed to the 15 minutes some journalists take to click around Wikipedia before writing stories on him. I hope this helps to clarify things for them … This is a major landmark event, 50 years after the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, because it rejects all the common fallacies and lies spread by an establishment media that is in hock to the state-sponsored multiculturalism lobby”.

So great has been his commitment to that research that he managed not to mention it even once on his Twitter feed during 2016 and 2017. And if the likes of Simon Heffer, who has been peddling his own “Enoch was right” narrative for years and failing miserably, can’t rehabilitate Powell, Kassam’s chances of doing so are not unadjacent to zero.

There is no “state-sponsored multiculturalism lobby”. There are no “common fallacies” about Enoch Powell. Raheem Kassam will clarify nothing for anyone. But it will, sadly, enable him to momentarily con his way on to the airwaves once more.

If Powell had had his way, Raheem Kassam would not be here now. End of story.

John Mann MP - Race Hate Shame

The litany of unfortunate Twitter interventions from Bassetlaw’s Labour MP John Mann last week, where he made a number of highly creative accusations against anyone querying the content of his contribution to the Commons debate on anti-Semitism, has served only to damage that cause. It has also prompted the re-evaluation of Mann’s own back catalogue on the issue of rate hate, and one incident in particular.
In 2016, the Travellers Times reported thatA three-way parliamentary group seminar planned to discuss racism against Gypsies and Travellers has dramatically collapsed after the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Anti-Semitism pulled out after details of an ‘offensive’ legal advice booklet emerged - produced and distributed by John Mann MP, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, Notts, and the Chair of the Anti-Semitism APPG”.

So what was the problem? “In the section on ‘Travellers’, which mainly deals with the civil offence of trespass, there is a big, bold strapline saying ‘the Police have powers to remove any gypsies and travellers’ (sic).” No context, as the screen shot shows. Worse, “A legal expert in Traveller law and police powers around trespass, contacted by The Travellers’ Times, has described the legal advice in the section on Travellers as ‘wrong.’

Three days after the Travellers’ Times article was published, Mann emailed a Traveller family who lived in his constituency, accusing them of makinga series of defamatory comments” about him (some things never change). This may have been not unconnected to the fact that Nottinghamshire Police had received a complaint about Mann’s legal advice booklet which resulted in his being interviewed by them.

The officers who interviewed Mann offered “advice … concerning the section entitled ‘Travellers’”, and that it should “not single out a group of people as responsible for the problem”. Mann’s defence was that the booklet was no longer in print, but as can be seen from the screen shot, the publication is available online, and can be located with no more than a minutes’ searching. The Police investigation described a “hate incident”.
Fortunately for Mann, the mainstream press failed to pick up on his little local difficulty, or on the discomfort that any campaigner against anti-Semitism must have felt at seeing that booklet, which just happened to have his name as the sole author. Indeed, as the Trevellers’ Times pointed out, “During the Second World War, the Nazis murdered six million Jews and an estimated half a million to one million Roma Gypsies”.

There was more: “Many Jewish groups and individuals support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights. Jews recently joined with the Gypsy Council at the Holocaust Memorial Gardens in Hyde Park on August 2nd this year to remember Roma, Sinti and Gypsy victims of the Nazi Holocaust”. One Labour MP has put it bluntly: “If Labour cannot combat racism then we are nothing”. The name of that MP was John Mann.

All of which puts him in one of those Very Difficult Positions. I’ll just leave that one there.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Owen Jones Critic Out On The Bitter

The right-leaning part of the press and pundit establishment loves to hate those of inconvenient view, especially when the latter exhibit a grasp of reality that the establishment cannot. They also despise those perceived not to know their place. So the likes of Owen Jones are damned twice over, and moreso when they dare to hold up a mirror to the shortcomings of the Fourth Estate and its inhabitants.
Owen Jones

Those of us who merely observe this sometimes less than edifying spectator sport from the stands know full well that the press and pundit establishment is very much a closed world, and that anything called New Media is not merely frowned on, but frequently sneered at and spat upon. The Sun and Mail can publish the most blatant whoppers, but if the Canary fails to punctuate its posts correctly, there’s all hell to pay.
Sorry, the Tub of Lard couldn't make it

And the attitude to the likes of Jones - a bit too New Left Media, even if he does write for the Guardian - is a case in point, as one observer noted: “Look everyone, it's quite simple: Owen Jones criticising an MP on his twitter is inciting dogpile abuse, while the entirety of the political pundit class using theirs to pillory him as a looney left bully is actually just good and fair journalism”. Jones then expanded on the subject.
The main thing I've learned from working in the British media is that much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit”. Those who sat through the Leveson Inquiry hearings know exactly where he’s coming from, as do those who suffer the dismal standard of TV and radio punditry.
Jones’ sin is that he brings an interesting and challenging point of view, and an ability to argue his corner, think through his arguments. This was all too much for one who was deficient in these attributes: step forward the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, whose presence before the cameras in indistinguishable from the proverbial tub of lard.
No, that's what he learned from working at the Guardian. Endless tedious contradictory columns.. and bitter sniping at working hacks. The man couldn't break a window let alone a story. And the realisation that the Corbyn team will never, ever forgive him seems to be eating him up” scoffed someone who only got his break at the Murdoch Sun thanks to the recommendation of an over-promoted News Corp Vice President.
Master Cole's definition of "journalism". No, don't laugh

The reality, of course, is that Master Cole’s idea of “breaking a story” means the kind of thing that got him his first Sun front page - “COURT JEZTER”. In other words, a poorly researched pack of lies that should have been spiked.

Plus Cole’s claims about Jones and Corbyn are demonstrably just another figment of the flannelled fool’s imagination: were Jones not forgiven by Jezza’s team, he would not be touring the country campaigning for the Labour Party ahead of next month’s local elections - as well as leading the effort to “Unseat” several Tory MPs at the next General Election.

Also, Jones gets better and more high profile TV punditry opportunities than Cole, who has to make do with his old boss Andrew Neil having him on the BBC’s Daily Politics. Jealousy and bitterness are what really eat people up. Hello Master Cole.

Rasputin Destroys Himself

Theresa May might have expected to see her reputation, or what remains of it, take a battering as a result of the “Windrush Generation” fiasco, but would have been safe in the knowledge that her pals in our free and fearless press would cover for her, and the ruckus would soon blow over as soon as they had dredged up some minor misdemeanour committed by someone who lives across the road from Jeremy Corbyn.
But she had reckoned without the destructive power of her former éminence grise Nick “Rasputin” Timothy, not realising that if he could piss the wrong way when invited into the Downing Street tent, he could do at least as badly when invited by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph to take hold of their megaphone. So it was that he pissed all the way from Buckingham Palace Road back to Downing Street this week.
Timothy told his adoring public that Ms May had opposed the infamous “Go Home” vans when in charge of the Home Office, and that she had curtailed the programme early. Sadly, the evidence of Operation Vaken was all too plain: the scheme had been quite deliberately thought through, and the pilot ran its full course, with no interruption. Moreover, Timothy was wrong that the pilot had started when his boss was on holiday.
That much was bad enough, but Rob Hutton of Bloomberg revealed that not only had Ms May known all about the “Go Home” vans, she did not think the campaign was tough enough! Then Adam Bienkov at Business Insider showed that, far from being out of the loop when on holiday, the then Home Secretary had personally intervened to “toughen up” the policy - while she was on that same holiday. Timothy was bust.
Problem was, by this time, so was the Prime Minister and party that he had intended to help by intervening. So it came to pass that he deleted his Twitter account, and in so doing launched a whole new comedy genre, typified by the response of David Whitley: “Nick Timothy's account has been deleted, but it is important to note that this wasn't in any way Nick Timothy's fault”. Others were quickly on the case.
One asked “Is he on holiday?” while another mused “Was he on holiday at the time?” and David Lewis provided the definitive answer: “Nick Timothy has not deleted his account. He has gone on holiday and the deletion has occurred without his knowledge”. But pride of place has to go to Bonnie Greer, who has waxed Shakespearian on the subject.
Missing #NickTimothy on #Twitter? Just a reminder of where you can find him: he's a columnist for two of the Three ‘Weird Sisters’ of UK journalism: @Telegraph; @TheSun ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair Hover through the fog and filthy air.’
The Tory Party’s very own Rasputin has ended up destroying himself. The problem for his former boss is that he may have taken her down with him. What a complete clown.

Tories And A Racist Woodpile

While the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press reacts with outrage at any suggestion that they are indulging in selective reportage of racism by restricting themselves to claims of ant-Semitism in the Labour Party, the Tories are, by complete coincidence you understand, getting away with allowing a racist who was caught in the act back into the party without any apparent sanction.
Anne Marie Morris MP

I’m also sure that Parliamentary arithmetic has had no influence, honestly, on returning the whip to Anne Marie Morris, who represents Newton Abbot, who was recorded saying of Britain’s exit from the EU “Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?” The chorus of condemnation was long and loud.
Dawn Butler MP

Theresa May stated that “I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable … I immediately asked the chief whip to suspend the party whip. Language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in today’s society”. Tory MPs expressing their disgust at Ms Morris’ remarks included Heidi Allen, who said an apology was not enough.
That was last July; by December, all was changed and Ms Morris was readmitted to the Tory fold. The Guardian observed thatthe Conservatives decided to restore the whip after just five months. They did so at a time when the government is extremely reliant on its MPs turning up to vote, as it battles to avoid defeats in the House of Commons over Brexit with a tiny majority in partnership with the Democratic Unionist party”.
But what sanction had been placed upon Ms Morris? There was no apparent sign of her having been so much as reprimanded for her remarks. It was as if she had been given nothing more than a slap on the wrist and let back in, no more questions asked. Well, one person not happy at that prospect is Labour’s equalities spokesperson Dawn Butler.

Ms Butler, who represents Brent Central, has written to Theresa May, telling “I was reminded that you have not made an updated statement. When you announced the suspension, you said you were ‘shocked by the completely unacceptable language … language like this has absolutely no place in politics or in public society’”.
Bob Blackman MP - no sanction at all

She has also made the contents of her letter to the PM public, with the comment “This is my second letter to the Prime Minister. You must not hide the reasons why you secretly reinstated the whip after this horrendous incident took place @theresa_may. We must be given your reasons”. Also, in response to her Tweet, Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain has mentioned the recent behaviour of Tory MP Bob Blackman.
Blackman endorsed a campaign to use the racism of the Indian sub-continent to gain votes. He hosted a known hate preacher at the House of Commons. He shared Islamophobic material on Facebook. Yet he, too, has experienced no sanction.

Anyone would think the Tories aren’t taking racism seriously. I’ll just leave that one there.

John Mann MP - We Have To Talk

John Mann, the combative and indeed outspoken Labour MP who sits for the constituency of Bassetlaw, made a contribution to the Commons debate on anti-Semitism earlier this week that has been lauded by the easily impressed, but is now being questioned by an increasing number of those uncomfortable at its potential lack of veracity, and Mann’s use of Parliamentary privilege to say things he might not say outside the Chamber.
Might be best to keep that North and South shut more often

Let’s first consider what he said. “I didn’t expect today, when Labour members stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues and the Jewish community, for not just no solidarity, but to be targeted by an organisation called Momentum, which has happened to all of us who stood in solidarity. But worse than that, explicitly targeting Jewish members of the Parliamentary Labour Party because they are Jewish”. There was more.

That is what is going on at the moment. I didn’t expect when I took on this voluntary cross-party role, for my wife to be sent by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite a dead bird through the post. I didn’t expect my son, after an Islamist death threat, to open the door in the house on his own, as a schoolboy, to the bomb squad. I didn’t expect my wife, in the last few weeks, from a leftist anti-Semite, in response to the demonstration, to be threatened with rape”. And there was yet more.

I didn’t expect my daughter, similarly, and have to be rung up in the last few weeks by Special Branch, to check out her movements in this country, no I didn’t expect all of that”. There was much more, but this is the part of Mann’s speech which is causing disquiet.

There are good reasons for that disquiet. Momentum, whatever one’s view of it, was founded by Labour NEC member Jon Lansman - who is Jewish. He is a ferocious opponent of any tendency to excuse anti-Semitic behaviour. Yet Mann has asserted, using Parliamentary privilege, that Momentum targets Labour members who are Jewish, because they are Jewish. The dead bird incident has caused further disquiet.
Mann’s wife Jo White was sent a dead bird in the post back in 2012, more than three years before Momentum was formed, but the MP has clearly inferred that Momentum is somehow connected to the incident. The culprit, Roger Dyas-Elliott, was a longstanding Labour member and indeed attender at Conference, but there was no allegation of anti-Semitism or indeed Marxism levelled at him. Nor, at the time, was the incident connected in any way to Mann’s work to combat anti-Semitism.
Nor, indeed, does the “Islamist death threat” appear to be. Mann has claimed to have been in receipt of death threats from pro-hunting campaigners, and two years ago claimedI have had three death threats which have been taken seriously during the last 15 years … I have had Islamic death threats, extreme right death threats and one from a drug dealer”. But until that Commons debate, not even a mention of anti-Semitism, or “Leftists”.
Mann has not done his cause any good by responding to those uneasy at his accusations, and use of Parliamentary privilege, with threats and abuse. And as he has responded via an open Twitter feed, he has, indeed, left himself open to more than just criticism. Here is his opening salvo: “These anti semites from Momentum can’t help themselves in their desperate attempts to rubbish Tuesdays debate. Time now to sue each and everyone of them for libel. You cannot say you were not warned”.
I can say with a significant measure of confidence that John Mann will not be suing anyone, whether in Momentum or elsewhere, for libel any time soon. Nor will the Labour Party be taking any action after he responded to a Tweeter who asked him three questions with “Anyone have an address for this man so the writ can be served and his expulsion from the Labour Party Fast tracked?”. There will be no writ. Even if it’s a Labour member.

Nor will Mann do his cause any favours by responding to a perfectly reasonable question from Kevin Maguire of the Mirror with “Disgusting, smearing, and of course entirely uninformed speculation. I suggest you delete it and apologise now. How dare you add insult to my family in this way”. Maguire had shown sympathy for Mann’s wife.
Nor will Mann take legal action following his bullying response to another question: “Let me give you the opportunity to withdraw your libel and apologise”. The litany of bluster goes on, with another Tweeter receiving the response “Suggest you actually listen to my speech then remove this libel”. We have. And that Tweeter won’t. Because there isn’t one.
There may, though, be grounds for one of Mann’s targets to take legal action against him, after he doubled down with “A man who didn’t bother to listen to the speech or to find out the facts of the case. Apologist for anti Semitic attacks. Oh and factually wrong”. His target is not an “Apologist for anti-Semitic attacks”. Mann has defamed that person.
John Mann has, by his thuggish and intemperate behaviour, turned the whole debate on anti-Semitism into a laughing stock, the situation summed up by Crispian Wheldon who replied to him “Momentum was formed in 2015. Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015. Your wife was (horribly) sent a dead bird by a disgruntled local in 2012 (widely reported as relating to council matters not antisemitism). Seems to me you twist the truth to suit your agenda. Sue me. I'd win” and then added “In fact, call me an anti-Semite again and I'll sue you”. He would, whisper it quietly, win that one too.
Anti-Semitism is a serious matter, serious enough not to be left to self-promotion artists like John Mann. Labour members, politics watchers and sceptical pundits not only have a right to question the veracity of his contribution to the Commons debate on anti-Semitism, but a right to be answered, honestly and civilly. He has no right whatsoever to use his position to defame and indeed threaten those who question his claims.

John Mann should withdraw his threats, apologise for any defamatory behaviour, and then answer the questions put to him. But he won’t. Because he’s a spineless coward.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Michael Gove - Pants On Fire

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines is on record as claiming that “The lying in politics is on an industrial scale”, although what he is less ready to tell is that it is him, his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and his pals in the Tory Party who do most of it. And proving Staines right, but in all the wrong ways, has been Michael “Oiky” Gove, the Minister for Murdoch.
Gove went on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning and declared “We're the most immigration-friendly country in the EU”. Wait, what? And there was more: spewing out his stream of verbiage unchallenged, “Oiky” went on to claim that this country had “the most liberal attitude towards non-EU immigration in the EU”.
Sadly, there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Only two years ago in the run-up to the EU referendum, the Elmer Fudd of the Tory Party was scaremongering, claiming “a population the size of Scotland” could arrive from Turkey and other potential new EU countries by 2030.
That does not fall into the category called “liberal”. Nor does having a Prime Minister who was, as Nesrine Malik has observed, “in her six years as home secretary … was the high priestess of hostile environments for immigrants”. Nor does having a Home Office which included in its 2017 annual report “In January 2016, we broadened our engagement activity in priority countries to maximise returns of all nationals in the UK illegally”.
That is the turning of the Home Office into some kind of dystopian machine for hunting down and deporting human beings and then blithely reporting the exercise as some kind of performance metric for which they should be thrown a biscuit. In clear expectation that many would be deported to Jamaica, and yet be unfamiliar with the country, the Home Office guidebook has even counselled “try to be Jamaican - use local accents and dialect (overseas accents can attract unwanted attention)”.
Could it get worse? As if you need to ask. The claim of “liberal” attitudes to immigration falls as soon as the UK is compared to other EU and EEA countries on numbers of refugees accepted per million of population. We are behind not just Germany, Austria and Sweden, but Belgium, Denmark, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
And worse: Gove is defending a régime introduced by a Home Secretary - guess who - who stood up in the Commons and saidwe can deport first and hear appeals later”. On top of all that, Lord Kerslake, former head of the Civil Service, told BBC Newsnight that Theresa May’s immigration reformwas highly contested and there were some who saw it, I shan't name them, as almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the way it's working”.
There is stuff all “liberal” about that. It is authoritarian, over-zealous, uncaring, inhumane, and worst of all, it is effectively allowing the right-wing press to dictate Government policy.

Michael Gove should head for the nearest extinguisher. Because his pants are on fire.