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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Press Gazette Protests Too Much

The shameless hypocrisy of the press establishment and its hangers-on knows no bounds:  whatever the press does, no matter how vicious, how venal, how dishonest, how spiteful, and how damaging, this is beyond reproach. It is, we are endlessly reminded, the exercise of free speech, to which we are all entitled. When those outside that establishment bubble exercise the same right, however, all is, in an instant, changed.
Fighting to be an establishment poodle, more like

Our free and fearless press is, like Caesar’s wife, beyond reproach. We should not so much as say boo to revelations of hacking, blagging, burglary, harassment and even the use of the platform given by that same press for some to run campaigns of vilification against those of dissenting view. The asymmetrical mindset of the press establishment is by now well-known. They are more of life’s perpetual victims.

So it should have been no surprise to see Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford go off the end of the pier in no style at all at the news that Evans Cycles have decided - of their own volition - to cease advertising in the Mail and Express titles, as well as the Murdoch Sun. Freedom of expression has suddenly become a challenging proposition for him.

Under the shrieking headlineWhy UK's 70,000-plus journalists should boycott Evans Cycles”, Ponsford tells anyone who will listen “Today I urge [all cyclists] in the news media to boycott the UK’s leading bicycle retailer Evans Cycles”. Why so? “The reason why is that Evans has cast itself as an enemy of free speech by placing the Mail and Express titles and The Sun on a blacklist of advertisers who it will no longer spend money with”.

Think that’s “with whom it will no longer spend money”, Dom, but do go on. “Let’s set aside the fact that a couple of thousand journalists rely on work from these news organisations to pay their rent or mortgages … When advertisers start boycotting newspapers because they don’t agree with what they are saying it takes to a pretty dark place”. Really?

Why? “It is the same place we went to when HSBC notoriously, and apparently successfully, sought to influence Telegraph editorial coverage by withholding advertising”. No it isn’t: Evans Cycles is not seeking any influence. It has merely made a business decision. So when Ponsford bleats “I would rather have a partisan and imperfect press than one which is muzzled by advertisers wielding commercial pressure to influence editorial content”, he is just getting hyperbolic. No-one is trying to muzzle anyone.

And he does his cause no favours by headlining the piece with a photo of Channel 4 News main man Jon Snow - just because he is a cyclist. Nor is the cause of the press served by complaining about groups like Stop Funding Hate, who are also free to express their views. The group does not attempt to browbeat or bully others into making advertising decisions - it is merely a campaign of persuasion.

The reality of the situation is that the press is, indeed, free to publish what it wants, when and where: the Duke of Wellington’s dictum should endure. Also, potential advertisers are free to advertise when and where they want, subject to current codes and regulations. Evans cycles have done so. Ponsford is overreacting, and then some.

But good to see the press establishment sense of entitlement on view for all to see. Free speech, for them, is, as usual, the freedom to please themselves, and others to lump it.

Uber Tried To Mess With FoI

As the clock ticks down towards the decision by Transport for London as to whether they will renew the operating license for driver and rider matching service Uber - and, if so, for how long - another unfortunate episode has come to light following a Freedom of Information Act request made to TfL recently. This shows that Uber has tried to engage TfL in keeping something quiet - or, as some might say, covering it up.
The correspondence revealed by the FoI request includes an exchange of emails on Wednesday 13th January last year, initiated by Helen Chapman at TfL, and sent to Jo Bertram and Tom Elvidge of Uber. Her concern was that Uber was about to start a new service without telling the regulator - which has happened in the past.
It has come to our attention that Uber is planning to start offering a food delivery service in London from 15 January 2016 … Can you please confirm whether you intend to operate this service, and if so, please provide TfL with details of how this service will operate in relation to licensed private hire vehicles or drivers before it is launched”. She also cautioned that such a service might not gain Congestion Charge Zone exemption.
Elvidge replied within quarter of an hour. “We have no current plans for such a service. We would very much like to know where this information has come from. Could you please let us know how you ascertained this?” TfL should reveal their sources to Uber? Hmmm.
Ms Chapman was not inclined to tell Uber: “I believe we have received several enquiries about this from individuals but I am not sure where it originally came from … We thought it best to check with you in the first instance so we could ascertain whether there was anything we needed to be aware of. I am pleased you have clarified your position”.
And there, one might have thought, the correspondence would have ended. Except that it did not, and Elvidge’s next email should have set alarm bells ringing.
It is very interesting that there have been enquiries about something that is untrue - and mentioning such a specific date. I am actually quite concerned that there are multiple requests for information around [a] business model we have no plans to launch. I would really appreciate your support in understanding where this has come from please. Could you forward the emails or share the origins of this?” And there was more.

May I also ask that you do not share this information with parties externally please? As you can well imagine competitors of ours may be seeking to learn this information, and we would of course prefer that such questions remain unanswered!

I’ll bet he would. And two things here. One, if Uber want disclosure of correspondence, they can put in an FoI request just like everyone else has to - TfL is not there to show favour to one or other private hire operator. And two, the suggestion that TfL should not respond to legitimate questions is totally out of order.

It gets worse: Uber launched UberEATS in June last year, boasting at the launch that “thousands” of couriers had already signed up. The idea that they knew nothing about that launch in January beggars belief. So that’s brazen deceit to add to the attempt to mess about with Freedom of Information laws. And they want their licence renewing.

Tommy Robinson’s Pals CHARGED

Another day, another laughable example of the far right playing the victim, as the fallout from a court case where four men were tried and convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in a room above a Ramsgate takeaway continues. Zelo Street regulars will be familiar with the attempted intervention in proceedings by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, which landed him with a suspended prison sentence.
All pals together

Lennon and his then sidekick Caolan Robertson had fetched up at Canterbury Crown Court with the intention of having one of those “polite conversations” with the accused men, only to fall foul of contempt laws by filming in and around the court building, which is expressly forbidden - as in, spelt out on signs displayed prominently. This earned Lennon a dawn raid at his home, and once again, yes, he was the victim.

But that was not all: the court case had also attracted the attention of Lennon’s new pals Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First, the organisation which had the most unfortunate distinction of getting itself linked to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year. The pair were nicked in the Tonbridge area on suspicion of inciting religious hatred, and Golding was later detained by the Police. He, too, was a victim.
Now, both these less than totally august individuals have been charged with religiously aggravated harassment. As Sky News has reported, “Kent Police said their investigation into the pair was related to leaflets distributed in Thanet and Canterbury, and videos posted during a trial at Canterbury Crown court … Golding was charged with three count of harassment while Fransen was charged with four … Both have been bailed to appear before Medway magistrates on 17 October 2017”.

One wonders if their pal Tommy, Stephen, or whatever other alias he chooses, will be there to offer support. What is not in dispute is that Lennon (aka Robinson) knows the Britain First pair have been charged - he has already disputed the matter, and more than likely before he bothers himself to find out what for.
After Tweeting a photo of the lucky couple with the straightforward caption “Britain First leader Paul Golding charged with harassment”, Lennon launched into a tirade against, well, anyone not backing the judgment of Himself Personally Now: “This is bollox. The men were on bail for raping an English child [and] were still running the same chicken shop they did it in. Now all convicted”. Which means what, exactly?

Does “English child” (the girl was 16) confer special status in law? Why should the fact that the men got guilty (three of them were given 14 year sentences) make what Golding and Ms Fransen did somehow OK? Has he read up on the law, and been in touch with anyone involved in the case (apart from those charged)? That’ll be more of those Questions To Which The Answer Is No, then.

Unlike Lennon (aka Robinson), Zelo Street understands the contempt laws and will therefore be making no further comment before the court case next month. One of these days, he will form a similar understanding. But, sadly, probably not just yet.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Nigel Farage - Blood On WHOSE Hands?

From the customarily bullish manner, anyone observing the bluster of former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage might think that all was well in the former head Kipper’s world. But despite today’s BBC-bashing braggadocio, nothing could be further from the truth. Nige may be OK providing he stays put in the UK, but across the North Atlantic, the news is bad, and getting a lot worse.
Squeaky impending extradition finger up the bum time

So keeping up the appearance of normality is paramount, and to this end Mr Thirsty has been to New Broadcasting House ostensibly to register a complaint, but in reality to maintain the media profile of Himself Personally Now. As he’s not been invited on The Andy Marr Show (tm), Daily Politics, Newsnight or especially Question Time recently, he’s been forced to invent a supposed slight by the Beeb.

His hand-delivered letter to Director-General Lord Hall-Hall contained the ultimate pointless ultimatum: “If the BBC do not apologise for saying I have blood on my hands, I will stop paying the licence fee”. Sadly for Nige, the BBC has not made this claim, and so cannot apologise for it. Even the Murdoch Sun makes clear that a member of the public made the claim to reporter John Sweeney, who stressed that Farage denied it.

This did not stop Mr Thirsty taking out a king-sized onion and blubbering “Sweeney did make it clear that I denied this allegation, but the damage was done and this hugely irresponsible piece of journalism was aired, presumably after a BBC lawyer had seen it … Could there be any better example of BBC bias when it comes to Britain's democratically determined withdrawal from the EU?” The EU Done It. What a dickhead.
And what neither Farage, nor LBC, and nor the Sun are telling anyone is that this is a mere diversionary tactic: the real problem for Mr Thirsty is that events in the USA have been revealed to have taken a turn for the worse - well, for him, anyway. Nige’s connection to Russia-friendly folks in the USA is well known, particularly Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Now, CNN has revealed thatUS investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election … The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump”. He talked to Farage, too. But do go on.

The warrant under which this snooping was permitted “was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives”. And get this: “The FBI interest in Manafort dates back at least to 2014, partly as an outgrowth of a US investigation of Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president whose pro-Russian regime was ousted amid street protests”.

That’s doubly embarrassing for Farage: in March 2014, after the Ukranian uprising, he asserted that his pal Yanukovych was “a legitimate president”, and after peddling the theory that the EU was behind the protests, guess what he told anyone who would listen?

That’s right: “I repeat the charge: the EU has blood on its hands”. Could there be a better example of paranoia when it comes to Europhobes? It won’t wash, Nige - you’re in deep shit with the FBI and there’s no vacancy at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Delingpole Climate Lies EXPOSED

While global temperatures continue inexorably upwards, there are still a few pockets of climate change denialism keeping faith with the idea that it isn’t really happening, and everything will be fine if we just abandon renewable energy and indulge in Polar oil exploration, along with lots of fracking somewhere up north away from where all the obscenely overpaid hacks and pundits happen to live.
"Gay marriage" ... "Global warming" ... "Bird-slicing, bat-chomping eco crucifixes" ... "Red meat Conservatism" ... "Dishonest selective quotation" ... "Easily provable dishonesty" ... "Credibility oblivion"

And the Murdoch Sun is still willing to indulge these dinosaurs, notably James “Saviour of Western Civilisation” Delingpole, who has been given a platform today to tell readers “How scientists got their global warming sums wrong - and created a £1TRILLION-a-year green industry that bullied experts who dared to question the figures”.

Poor Del Boy has been bullied? He claims so: “whenever we spoke out, the response was the same - we were bullied, vilified, derided and dismissed as scientifically illiterate loons by a powerful climate alarmist establishment which brooked no dissent”. Two things here. One, as Paul Nurse demonstrated, Delingpole IS a “scientifically illiterate loon”. And two, if he’s been “derided and dismissed”, what’s he doing in today’s Sun?

Anyhow - what’s the story? Well, as is usual, Del Boy takes a while to get to the point, but by the ninth paragraph of his rant he deigns to tell us: “In a new paper in the prestigious journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists who produce those doomsday reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have finally come clean”.

And how do they “come clean”? “The computer models they’ve been using to predict runaway global warming are wrong … The report’s authors say it is now much more likely that the world will meet its CO2 reduction targets agreed at the UN’s Paris summit in 2015 … it is now clear the impact of CO2 has been overstated”. Has it now?
There is only one problem with Del Boy’s screed - we can check the paper he quotes. And its conclusions are by no means as cut and dried as suggested. “it could be easier than previously thought to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”, we are told - note “could” - before the warning “But even if the team is right - and some researchers are already questioning the conclusions - heroic efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions will still be necessary to limit warming”. So Del Boy is over-inflating his soufflé here.

And he isn’t telling his readers about this observation: “Humanity is poised to blow through the IPCC’s carbon budget for a 1.5 °C rise within a few years, leading many scientists to declare the goal impossible. But the new analysis suggests that it could be met with a modest strengthening of the current Paris pledges up to 2030, followed by sharp cuts in carbon emissions thereafter”. Strengthening of pledges. Sharp emissions cuts.

Also, note that “The work is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue that the analysis is fundamentally flawed, because it centres on a period of slower warming that began around the turn of the millennium. This period, often referred to as the climate hiatus, continued until 2014. Scientists think that natural variability in the climate system temporarily suppressed temperatures during this period”. Del Boy didn’t mention that, either.

So Delingpole trousered another fat paycheque - for at best being creative, and at worst peddling another pack of lies. So no change there, then.

May’s Web Ban Bravado BUSTED

Understanding the Web is one of those areas where there are plenty of people trying to educate those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, but precious few ready to listen to them. Those unable or unwilling to listen, sadly, include many in Government, and hence today’s screaming headline from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre - a technophobe without compare - at the Daily Mail.
After Mail campaign, May’s ultimatum to Web giants … TAKE DOWN HATE VIDEOS IN TWO HOURS … OR ELSE” thunders the self-congratulatory declaration (the story, such as it is, has also been briefed to the Murdoch Sun, whose interpretation is “2 HRS TO GET I. S. OFF WEB”). So what is in store? “Google and Facebook face punishing fines unless they remove terrorist propaganda within a two-hour limit”.

And there is, sadly for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, more: “Theresa May will use a summit in New York tonight to warn the technology giants and their rivals that her patience is running out over their failure to clamp down on jihadi groups … She will say they have only a month to make progress. If they don’t, the Government will legislate to make them liable for extremist content on their sites”.
Very good. So let’s take this nice and slowly, for those in the Fourth Estate who still can’t get their heads round the technology involved. Facebook, yes, can remove content, if that content has been posted there. Facebook can also remove links to content elsewhere, but as the content concerned is not posted there, it can’t remove it. Facebook can, of course, flag the content to those hosting it, but has no sanction on them.

Then we get to Google. Yes, there are ways that Google can remove content, such as anything posted using Google Blogger. That is the straightforward part. But for most content accessed via Google search, it is not Google’s content: all the company does is use its search engine to offer users a series of links. Google can remove links. But, once more, it cannot then go and remove the offending content.
There is more that the press briefing does not answer: being able to levy fines in the UK, France and Italy is all very well, but if the content is hosted outside those countries, and companies like Google and Facebook have removed links to it, the Government has little else it can do. Is the Mail suggesting that Britain indulge in the kind of web-blocking practised by countries like China? You know … censorship?

The problem the Mail has is not just its technophobia, but that it has built up companies such as Google in such a way to suggest that they ARE the Web, that they alone can switch off all that Bad Content. Explaining what is, and more importantly, is NOT possible might make the paper’s readers better informed, but would also underscore that Alastair Campbell was right all those years ago to call the MailThe Dacre Lie Machine”.

Sometimes you need more experts. And fewer media establishment loudmouths.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Murdoch, Sky … And A Rape Claim

Why Culture Secretary Karen Bradley suddenly stopped looking as if she was going to green light the bid by the Murdoch mafiosi for the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own, and instead decided to refer the bid on the twin grounds of media plurality and broadcasting standards, has, as I noted recently, much to do with the effectiveness of behind the scenes lobbying - especially from Media Matters for America.
MMFA has a lot to teach those of us on this side of the North Atlantic when it comes to holding power to account, and they have had access to plenty of material from which to learn. That is down to the activities of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), which, since the ousting of its founder Roger Ailes - again, for persistent bad behaviour - has been under the personal control of Rupert Murdoch himself.

FNC has seen top-rated host Bill O’Reilly follow Ailes out the door, with professional loudmouth Sean Hannity looking like he may be next in the firing line. But now has come another accusation of not just bad behaviour, but the criminal kind: FNC offshoot Fox Business Network has been the target of a rape accusation.

As Axois has reported, “Scottie Nell Hughes, a conservative political commentator, sued Fox News Monday alleging Fox Business host Charles Payne raped her and the network retaliated against her following her allegations … Payne, host of ‘Making Money,’ was suspended in July pending an investigation into Hughes' allegations. He returned to the air earlier this month. He has denied the allegations”.

The report helpfully tells “Why it matters: Fox has been rocked by sexual harassment allegations have have led to millions of dollars in legal settlements and the departure of Chairman Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly”. What it does not tell, but what is all too obvious to UK media watchers, is that the allegation impinges on the Sky bid.
And the detail is as unseemly as the claim suggests: “Hughes claims in the suit that Payne forced his way into her hotel room in July 2013 before sexually assaulting her, and says she was coerced into having a sexual relationship with him for the next two years in order to secure opportunities at Fox … She further alleges that after she ended the relationship she was blacklisted from the network, and after she raised the allegations Fox leaked a story about her to the National Enquirer”. Will Ms Bradley find out?

More to the point, it is certain, with the inevitability of night following day, that Karen Bradley will already have found out: MMFA will make sure of that. She can then add this latest disturbing incident to the catalogue of FNC disturbing incidents and note that Rupe is now the man who is presiding over this sad organisation.

That will mean the Government will be more determined to stand firm in the face of Murdoch machination and bluster. And unless FNC stops the torrent of bad news, it is going to become the nail that seals the Sky bid coffin.

Piers Morgan Attends Spanish Class

It is one of those observations that confirms many a true word is spoken in jest: that all too many English people believe that they can best make themselves understood by those who don’t speak their language by speaking English very slowly and very loudly. They therefore have no need to bother learning another language.
Don't we know who he is? Unfortunately, yes we do

Coupled with the slightly paranoid belief that those who speak another language only do so in order to say things about the English without them understanding, and you have the mindset of all too many people, whose number it seems includes former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan. The Monday to Wednesday co-host of Good Morning Britain has found his latest attempt at social climbing foiled - because he doesn’t speak Spanish.
After English, Arabic and French, Spanish (also called Castilian Spanish of Castellano), is one of the world’s most widely-spoken tongues, and the de facto language of 31 countries, including many in Central and South America. This was brought home to Morgan when he fetched up, bad penny style, at Tate Modern for the GQ Men of the Year awards.

The Great Man shared a table with Arsenal footballer Héctor Bellerin, who is Spanish. But when fellow Arsenal fan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - whose wife in Mexican and who therefore speaks fluent Spanish - came over to chat to Bellerin, and did so in a language Morgan could not understand, he was deeply miffed.
Later, fellow Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn came over to speak to him. When I tried to interrupt, the Labour leader … promptly switched to fluent Spanish to shut me out of the conversationhe whined in his Mail Online diary, in which he drops lots of names in order to tell readers about the importance of Himself Personally Now.
The idea that Corbyn and Bellerin had conversed in Spanish not because they didn’t want Morgan to understand, but because Jezza was being courteous and putting the player at his ease, does not appear to have entered. But the opportunity for both men to wind up the appallingly self-important mouth artist was too much for them to let slip.
And so it came to pass that after Bellerin was alerted to Morgan’s whining, he Tweeted “Come on mate, don't take it personally”. Then Corbyn identified the opportunity to troll the self-promotion artist by switching to Spanish. “Fue un placer conocerte. Es mejor que no le digamos de lo que estábamos hablando, no lo entendería. Muy buen juego en el partido el domingo” he replied. Bellerin took the hint immediately.
Muchas gracias señor Corbyn y por supuesto, todo queda entre nosotros! Fue un placer conocerle!” he chipped in. Rachel Swindon compounded Morgan’s misery by taking the opportunity to add “para muchos, no para los pocos - Señor Jezza”.

That last one means “for the many, not the few”. As for Piers Morgan, no, I’m not translating the other Tweets - do it yourself or enrol in a Spanish class. This will banish the twin evils of ignorance and paranoia simultaneously. Then get a life.

Brexit £350m Claim DECLARED DEAD

The campaign by London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his gullible pals in Parliament and the media to resurrect the idea that leaving the EU will give the UK another £350 million a week to “control” has had a pretty good second innings - until today. This is despite the head of the UK Statistics Authority effectively telling Bozza that his trousers were well alight.
A total Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

And the reason that innings has come to a close is because, as so often with anything to do with the EU, the claim comes up against the unyielding wall of reality. Despite Bozza blustering that he was right all along and deserved an apology (as if), and his pals at the Guido Fawkes blog claiming the UKSA head had messed up (he hadn’t), the fact is that we will not be “taking control” of any more money come Brexit day - quite the opposite.

How so? Well, to answer that question, we need look no further than the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the one body that is beyond reproach when it comes to pitching the numbers on Government finances. The IFS has considered the Government’s own estimates, and concluded that allowances are already being made not for more money as a result of Brexit, but less - a lot less. Their deputy director Carl Emmerson has spelt it out.
The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts the outlook for the UK economy and the public finances; these forecasts have been adopted by the Chancellor as the Government’s own. They contain an allowance of almost £250 million a week - not £350 million - for funding that could go in principle to the NHS rather than the EU. But this would involve no state support for any other activities, such as subsidies for agriculture, that are at present funded in the UK by the EU”. And there was more.

The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15 billion a year - or almost £300 million a week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350 million weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it”. So what of Bozza’s bluster?

Those are the numbers and forecasts which the Government has adopted. It is perhaps surprising that members of the Government are suggesting rather different figures”.

What Emmerson is suggesting is this: the public finances are likely to suffer a loss of almost £300 million a week, while almost £250 million a week will be available from not paying EU contributions. So we lose around £50 million a week from Brexit.
And that’s before the job losses, the next run on Sterling, the likely fall in the stock market, the looming problem of Northern Ireland and the Irish border, and years in limbo as we try to replace all those EU trade deals we already have with something British.

Bozza’s whole pitch was a pack of lies. Anyone who backed him probably knew it - which makes the shameless cheerleading yet worse - or they were too blinkered to check their facts. Brexit will be a shambles - and it will be very bad indeed for the UK.

Maybe now Bozza and his pals will try sticking to the facts. But then again, maybe not.

Mail Ryanair Hypocrisy

Budget air carrier Ryanair is back in the news, and as so often, it’s for all the wrong reasons. CEO Michael O’Leary has for once opted not to brazen this one out, but to consume a generously sized portion of humble pie, after hitting punters with scores of flight cancellations, often at very little notice. This has hit the airline’s share price. It has also incurred the displeasure of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.
The Daily Mail is not the only paper putting O’Leary on its front page - Metro, also owned by Associated Newspapers, has the headline “It’s a flight old mess”, and the Mirror simply says “THE SHAMING OF RYANAIR” - but the Vagina Monologue has clearly ordered an all-hands-on-deck hit job. “FLIGHTMARE … 400,000 passengers hit by Ryanair cancellation fiasco … £500m wiped off airline’s value … Boss admits ‘it’s a mess-up’ … weeks more misery to come” screams the front page today.
Michael O'Leary offers passengers a traditional Ryanair customer service greeting

The supporting articles come thick and fast: Mail Online wheeled out its “Chief UK Reporterto tell readers'It's not even my biggest cock-up': Ryanair boss insists 'only 2 per cent of customers' have been affected by mass flight cancellation as it's revealed 250,000 passengers WON'T get compensation”. Why oh why oh why?!?!?
Ryanair? F*** off, I wouldn't touch the c***s with a bargepole

Meanwhile, City Editor Alex Brummer whines plaintivelyThe sight of Ryanair’s egotistical chief executive, Michael O’Leary, waving his arms around and admitting the cancellation of up to 55 flights a day for six weeks is ‘clearly a mess’ will not reassure passengers … As many as 400,000 people are likely to be affected, their autumn breaks, business trips or visits to family overseas thrown into chaos because Ryanair has spectacularly mismanaged its pilot and crew rota”. And there was, unfortunately, more.
It’s an appalling state of affairs for travellers who booked in good faith and have a perfect right to expect their flights to take off on the day they were advertised”. And there was the inevitable human interest story: “They would have left us stranded for a week: Ryanair refuse to help family-of-four after cancelling their flight from Spain to Manchester leaving them with nowhere to stay”. So the Mail is avoiding Ryanair like the plague, right?

A little application of the mystical art known as “five minutes’ Googlingbrings you to Mail Online’sRyanair vouchers for September 2017 … Save with these Ryanair discount codes - 11 active vouchers”. And just to confirm that this is an encouragement to book flights with the carrier the Mail is slagging off as it plays the other side of the field, there are tips on Mobile Boarding Passes, Special assistance … and “Excellent Customer Service”!
Yes, the Dacre doggies want you to be horrified about Ryanair so they can flog a few more papers … and then they encourage you to book flights with them. The stinking hypocrisy from the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker was never so blatant.

And unlike Michael O’Leary, being Paul Dacre means never having to say you’re sorry.

Monday, 18 September 2017

IDS’ Allegiance Problem

Today, arch-Brexiteer Iain Duncan Cough appeared before the inquisition of host Jo Coburn on the BBC Daily Politics, to be lightly grilled on the subject of Britain and the EU. Here, he pontificated on the subject of allegiance, telling “If you get confused about where your allegiance lies, I think it confuses your attitude towards how you govern”. Duncan Cough knows all too well about confusion over allegiance.
For starters, his allegiance to the truth, which has for some years now been the subject of constant ridicule. As any fule kno, as soon as the tell-tale cough starts up, it signals the often invisible smoke emanating from Duncan Cough’s blazing trousers. So it was with his appearance today: the Twittersphere was swift to call him out.

#IDS lying through his teeth as usual … IDS lying on @daily_politics and being called out by @Jo_Coburn Wonderful to watch.  #Brexit … @IainDSmith_MP IDS lying on Daily Politics again … How does the electorate not see through this lying, duplicitous & awful specimen of a man? #bbcdp #IDS” were some of the more charitable responses.

Duncan Cough’s indifferent allegiance to the truth also caused him to creatively embellish his CV to suggest he had attended the University of Perugia in Italy (he hadn’t), and that he had been educated at Dunchurch College of Management. Dunchurch was the staff college of GEC Marconi, for whom he had worked in the 1980s. He’d been on a few training courses there. And then came his allegiance to the Tory Party.

While “Shagger” Major was struggling to hold the Tories together in the wake of Sterling’s ejection from the ERM, with a series of party figures caught misbehaving and thereby giving The Blue Team a reputation for sleaze, Duncan Cough was a serial rebel, something that did not help his cause during his brief tenure as party leader.

And, like his fellow Brexiteer Bozza, Duncan Cough has form when it comes to allegiance to statistical accuracy, or in both their cases, the lack of it. Andrew Dilnot called him out for breaking the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. After IDS tried to flannel his way out of that one, Jonathan Portes also called him out - this time for going beyond the usual Government “cherry-picking” of stats to just making them up, ie lying.

Then there is IDS’ allegiance to the rest of the human race, summed up by all those desperately sick and disabled people who were forced to seek employment during his time at the DWP. In addition, Duncan Cough’s department even had a week of celebrations, marking the impact of enhanced benefit sanctions.

On top of that was his lying about food bank use, claiming - just as Jacob Rees Mogg has recently - that the increase in people using food banks was because they knew about them, and not because of any increase in hardship. Yes, Duncan Cough has form when it comes to questionable allegiance - he’s full of it.

But one allegiance is unquestionable: after the man who advocated pre-paid cash cards for the unemployed had his expenses credit card suspended after running up a four-figure debt, Iain Duncan Smith’s allegiance to Himself Personally Now is unshakeable.

We need take no lectures from this dishonest phoney on allegiance. End of story.

Statistics And 1984

The closing of ranks among supporters of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has continued this morning, as the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have, by complete coincidence you understand, gone in to bat not just for Bozza, but in support of the Murdoch mafiosi who have been shamelessly exploiting the divisions in the Tory Party.
Would you buy a used statistics guide from HIM?

While the Murdoch Sun has wheeled out faithful retainer Trevor Kavanagh to tell any readers not yet asleep “His words will be music to the ears of millions who voted for Brexit - and have been waiting with increasing frustration for a Downing Street sign that they had done the right thing”, and blame any adverse comment on the BBC, the Fawkes massive has deployed Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham in unswerving support.

Teaboy Wickham, who lies more or less when he draws breath, started his defence of allegedly brave Bozza yesterday, claiming “There was nothing in Boris’ article which went against current government policy - as Fraser Nelson says it doesn’t contradict policy, it articulates it better”. We know exactly how far Fraser Nelson can be trusted - no further than the SOB can be usefully chucked. And Wickham was at it again today.

Claiming “Boris Article Wasn’t Wrong About £350 Million”, he asserts “Boris-hating journalists have reported the row between BoJo and Sir David Norgrove with such glee that they have neglected to mention that Boris’ article was correct and Sir David has cocked up” and then has the brass neck to talk of “The supposedly independent UK Statistics Authority chief”. And, sad to say, there is more.

Sir David has made a pretty major error” continues Wickham. How so? This is where a little smoke and mirrors is deployed. “Boris doesn’t say there would be £350 million extra money available for public spending. He talks about ‘control’, because half of how this money is spent is currently controlled by the EU, and he wants it to be controlled by the UK”. Who is this “half of how this money is spent”?
The problem for Wickham and his ultimate masters at the Baby Shard bunker is that, however one slices it, there is no £350 million in the first place. Even if the gross EU weekly payments are used, last year’s figure was £230 million, and the highest possible number for two years in the future is £310 million. Is someone trying to pretend that the EU somehow controls items outside its budget? Bozza was wrong. He got caught. End of.

This lame spin, which piles in on behalf of not only Bozza, but Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, whose magazine occasionally features Wickham’s highly creative take on the term “journalism”, is bunk. But it does have one purpose: excusing a career liar while trying to demonise the head of the UK Statistics Authority. Sadly, the best the Fawkes rabble can do in backing this up is to quote (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. No, don’t mock.

Bozza was caught bang to rights. But now we have to endure a Nineteen Eighty-Four level of Newspeak: truth is lies, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery, and as the head of the UKSA has committed thought crime, he is dealt with by The Great Guido’s thought police.

Sadly, the Fawkes idiocy exists in a real world where few believe them. Another fine mess.

Spectator Editor Says Lying Is OK

Those who follow the pronouncements of Spectator editor Fraser Nelson know that he talks well, but when he deems the occasion demands it, lies badly and shamelessly. This is particularly noticeable when the subject of press regulation - or, in this country, the lack of it - is raised, and he praises sham regulator IPSO, telling anyone in earshot that it is the “toughest press regulator in the Western world”, which it definitely isn’t.
Fraser Nelson: polished, upstanding ... and appallingly dishonest

And after his predecessor, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, did a little lying of his own at the weekend courtesy of the increasingly downmarket and desperate Telegraph, there was Nelson again, defending not just another of the Barclay Brothers’ properties, but Bozza too. Even when The Blond was called out by the UK’s chief statistician for lying, this too was defended as just fine.
When Bozza’s ill-judged and unnecessary intervention appeared in the Tel, there was Nelson to praise it, whatever it said. He made sure to comment approvingly upon it. “Boris Johnson has finally overcome his stage fright. My blog on his long-overdue Daily Telegraph article”. Oh, and just for good measure, “And here's my Daily Telegraph column, printed yesterday, on how we need to hear a lot more from Boris”.
Yes, in the hermetically sealed world of the right-leaning Pundit Establishment, we need to hear more from an habitual liar whose only concern is the promotion and enrichment of Himself Personally Now. And just to make sure his followers got the message, Nelson Tweeted out an image of the Tel’s front page with the comment “That's more like it”.
But then, David Norgrove, head of the UK Statistics Authority, passed severely adverse comment on Bozza’s creative use of figures, or as most people call it, lying. The £350 million figure was a prize whopper when emblazoned on the side of the Vote Leave bus, and it was no different now. Torn between bothering to do some proper investigative journalism, and saying what was needed to defend Bozza, Nelson did not hesitate.
The Spectator’s piss-poor Steerpike column was duly commanded to back The Blond, and Nelson duly Tweeted “Why is the UK’s supposedly independent statistics watchdog joining the Boris-bashing? Steerpike”. Very good, Spectator people - Norgrove was intervening on the misuse of statistics because that is his job. Clearly, not a lot of people know that.
Meanwhile, Norgrove’s intervention was gaining traction, and the thought that Bozza had once again been caught with his trousers well alight clearly distressed Nelson. Also, his predecessor had come out fighting in his own defence. So the Spectator editor personally took up the cudgels, recycling Bozza’s bilge into a blog of his own. This was duly relayed to his Twitter followers thus: “For once, the £350m figure was used accurately - the UK Statistics Authority misjudged its intervention. Here's why”.
Here’s why the Spectator’s editor is prepared to lie shamelessly, rather than admit that, sometimes, it is better to own up and tell the truth - or keep mouth well shut.

And remember, Fraser Nelson is a respected member of the Pundit Establishment. Now you know how far you can trust all those TV talking heads. As in, you can’t.