Author Archives: Mike Sivier

About Mike Sivier

When Mike Sivier started Vox Political, he had no idea that he was creating a monster. Disillusioned with the mainstream media after nearly 20 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, Mike had given it all up in 2007 to become a carer for his disabled girlfriend (affectionately named Mrs Mike, she features in many of his posts). He took on some freelance work, but this took a back seat from late 2011 onwards, when Mike started Vox Political. Born from his interest in politics - with an emphasis on people rather than the movement of money – the blog grew from humble beginnings to become one of the most well-read in the United Kingdom. Amazingly, Mike still has some free time. He uses it to perform in a band called the Dodgie Jammers, and to write comic strips including Hard-Boiled Hitler, for the small-press comic he created in 1999, entitled 'Violent!'. On Twitter, he is MidWalesMike On Facebook he has a page: ‘Mike Sivier’.

Is this the real reason Rishi Sunak wants to stop people taking some degree courses?

Rishi Sunak: is he trying to eliminate critical thinking so we won’t have the intellectual ability to understand when he and his fellow Tories are talking nonsense?

The BBC’s Any Questions and Any Answers discussed Rishi Sunak’s plan to stop people taking degree courses that don’t increase their “earning potential” – and may have revealed an ulterior motive behind it.

Sunak has said he would assess courses through drop-out rates, numbers in graduate jobs and salary thresholds – and current figures show that students with a degree in languages, linguistics, and classics have the least employable degrees.

But one caller to Any Answers made a hugely important point about the degrees Sunak wants to eradicate: they encourage critical thinking.

Vocational courses – that lead to careers in engineering, science and the like – are all about how to achieve particular results. To a large extent, students are spoon-fed the methodologies and don’t have to employ their critical faculties (although I will be happy to be proved wrong).

So here’s the question: why would a politician like Rishi Sunak want to stop members of the UK electorate from thinking critically?

Is it because they would then be able to examine the word salad he and his fellow Tories churn out every day and correctly identify it as nonsense gibberish?

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Neither Sunak nor Truss have anything to offer the working class | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss: they may be grinning like idiots in this image, but the UK electorate will be the fools if we allow either of them to govern beyond a future generation – that cannot come soon enough (and 2024 is far too far away).

This is an opinion piece but it is well worth reading.

In it, my brother the Beast analyses the Tory leadership contest, its participants, its commentators, and the significance for the rest of us – and finds in it a terrifying prospect for the future of the UK.

You need to read it:

This is a leadership contest in which everyone but a small fraction of the population are just spectators. Which one of them becomes Tory leader is a matter for the Tory party, not the general public, and so while the leadership debates give the general public the chance to see what the candidates stand for, or claim they stand for, and give the media political pundits an opportunity to speculate about what this all means, this mass coverage doesn’t actually affect the public very much.

The usual process now seems to be that instead of having a general election to decide whether a new party leader should be PM, the prime ministerial successor is inserted into office during the term of his immediate predecessor and an election held later to decide whether he or she should continue to rule. Meanwhile the party continues to govern. Thus have the Tories clung on to power over the past ten years, despite prime ministers entering and leaving 10 Downing Street as if through a revolving door.

It’s all done to avoid the perils of a proper general election involving both the head of the party and the party itself, when both may find themselves out of power and sitting on the opposition benches. Thus is democracy in Britain manipulated to the ruling party’s advantage.

As for Sunak and Truss, neither of them has anything really to offer working people. Sunak says he’ll cut inflation, which would help admittedly, but not as much as is needed by people on very low pay, benefits or absolutely zilch, thanks to benefit sanctions, facing rising fuel and energy prices. It’s a policy directed primarily at economists and financiers, but not the starving hoi polloi.

And neither is Truss going to help. She’s announced that she’s going to cut taxes. This will be spun by the Tory papers as somehow meaning ordinary people will be richer. But it won’t mean that. When the Tories cut taxes, it is always for the very rich, never for the poor. And when their taxes are cut, it means that there’s less money coming into the exchequer to support the NHS, public services and the welfare state.

as for cutting down on the bureaucracy in the NHS, this has mushroomed because of the piecemeal privatisation Truss and the rest of the Tory right are so frantically, pantingly keen on. But this is not going to reversed, because the Tory line is that privatisation cuts bureaucracy. What will happen instead is that more services will be privatised and those remaining will be cut.

It doesn’t matter which one wins, Tweedlesunak or Tweedletruss. They will both continue the campaign of privatisation and impoverishment to the mendacious cheering of the Tory media.

Source: Neither Sunak or Truss Have Anything to Offer the Working Class | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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A Corbyn government would have followed a much more sane course – Chomsky

Noam Chomsky: the world’s leading left-wing thinker has nothing good to say about the Tories or Keir Starmer and his Labour Party. He says Jeremy Corbyn was the best chance for sane government the UK had – and we threw it away.

One of the world’s leading thinkers, Noam Chomsky, has gone on the record to say that the UK has descended into insanity under the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and that a nation run by Jeremy Corbyn would have been much better.

This Writer can picture the Rachel Rileys of this world foaming at the mouth to scream about Corbyn being an anti-Semite and Chomsky a genocide denier (without evidence – or with very little of it, of course). We’ve experienced that before.

What they’ would really be doing, of course, is distracting people from what Chomsky is actually saying. We’ve experienced that before, as well.

Here’s what he’s saying:

I think if Corbyn had been elected, Britain would be pursuing a much more sane course. I think his general positions were very reasonable. And I think that’s probably the reason for the extraordinary attack on him pretty much across the spectrum, with mostly fabricated charges of antisemitism. Anything that could be thrown at him was, it was a major assault. Again, pretty much across the spectrum, The Guardian, right-wing press, ‘we got to get rid of this guy’.

I think that’s a sign, a reflection of the fact that he had very reasonable proposals. He was also doing something dangerous, he was trying to turn the Labour Party into an authentic political party, one that’s based on its constituents, not some bureaucracy somewhere that runs it and tells people how to vote. That’s scary. We don’t want to have authentic, popular based political parties around, they could be out of control.

Okay, what about the current Labour leader, Keir Starmer? Does he have a good strategy?

It’s a good strategy if you want to turn the Labour Party into a junior partner of the Tories. Pretty much like what Tony Blair did, it used to be called Thatcher light. If that’s what you want, fine. If you want a Labour Party that actually represents the working people of England, middle-class people of England, pursue their interests, it’s not the way to do it.

It looks to me that Starmer’s is pretty much dismantling the activist Labour Party that the Corbyn people were trying to develop.

Valid points – especially in the light of the internecine warfare revealed in the Labour Party by the Forde Report.

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This critique of James Cleverly praising Liz Truss has to be viewed [VIDEOS]

James Cleverly: he was once described as “the Tories’ go-to eejit when they need someone to tweet absolute nonsense or defend the indefensible” – and he’s been at it again.

Here’s a video from James O’Brien’s – yes, I know he’s controversial – LBC radio show in which he takes aim at James Cleverly for saying Liz Truss is the potential prime minister who can “turn this ship around” – the “ship” Cleverly has been helping to crew for many years.

O’Brien makes the point that we’ve had a Tory government for 12 years and everywhere you look in government, “there’s a skip fire, or a clown car, or a combination of both… from health to hospitality, from energy to water”.

And Cleverly is saying we need more of the same – a prime minister who wants less regulation (the only thing keeping England’s private water companies – the only private water firms in the world, by the way – from pumping faeces that are probably full of disease directly into our waterways, to be sucked up and used as a substitute water supply in the coming drought) and lower taxes.

Oh, and to top it all, neither Truss nor Rishi Sunak seem to understand that the entire world – not just the UK – is facing a climate change catastrophe created by the greed of the Conservative Party’s natural constituency of supporters:

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Tory MPs try to condemn Partygate investigation as a witch hunt

Boris Johnson: regarding his honesty, public opinion tends to go against him, as this graphic shows.

Isn’t it scandalous that some Conservative MPs are trying to use their position and influence to pre-judge an investigation into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament?

According to the BBC,

allies of the outgoing PM dismissed the investigation by the Commons Privileges Committee as a “witch hunt” and “rigged”.

The inquiry will examine whether he obstructed Parliament by telling it that pandemic rules had been followed [when in fact more than a dozen rule-breaking parties are known to have happened, with many more suspected].

The probe could lead to Mr Johnson facing a by-election to remain an MP, if it leads to his suspension from the Commons for more than 10 days.

Apparently the comments started flying after the committee said it would not have to prove that Johnson deliberately misled MPs to show he committed a “contempt of Parliament” by obstructing its work.

Johnson loyalist and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the “Machiavellian” inquiry was “the means to a by-election” and called on Tory MPs to “have no part in it”.

Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith, whom Mr Johnson made a peer in December 2019, said the inquiry was “clearly rigged” and an “obscene abuse of power”.

Backbench Tory MP Michael Fabricant also accused the committee of wanting to “get rid of Boris Johnson” and “changing the rules”.

In response,

one of the Tory MPs on the committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin, said the committee had a “duty” to carry out the inquiry and accused Ms Dorries of waging a “terrorist campaign to try and discredit the committee”.

So now, in a move to halt this internecine fighting within the Tory Party, chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris has demanded decorum:

“May I urge caution against any further comments in the media about the Privileges Committee and especially its Clerk and Members,” wrote Mr Heaton-Harris, who is in charge of party discipline.

“Invariably these comments will be misinterpreted by those who do not wish to help us.”

Johnson has denied deliberately misleading MPs. The committee – with a majority of Conservative MPs – has said it has not “prejudged” any aspect of its inquiry, and the parliamentary officials advising it are politically impartial.

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Truss defends energy firms’ profits as millions prepare to go into debt to them

Clueless: Liz Truss.

Liz Truss has said the huge profits being taken by energy firms that are charging enormous – and soon-to-increase – prices for gas and electricity should not be considered “dirty and evil”.

Let’s have a think about that, shall we?

According to the BBC, Truss said

windfall taxes on profits – urged by some to fund help for households – were about “bashing business”.

She said cutting taxes was the best way to help with living costs over winter.

We know this is not true; the people facing the worst outcomes due to the higher cost of living caused by Tory policies are those who do not earn enough to pay taxes – who will not receive any benefit at all from her tax cuts.

Asked about public perceptions of record profits, she added: “I don’t think profit is a dirty word, and the fact it’s become a dirty word in our society is a massive problem.

“Now, of course, the energy giants, if they’re in an oligopoly, should be held to account, and I would make sure they’re rigorously held to account.

“But the way we bandy the word around ‘profit’ (as if) it’s something that’s dirty and evil, we shouldn’t be doing that as Conservatives.”

Certainly there are justifications for organisations making a profit – if it is used properly. So, for example, bonuses to workers improve productivity (but most people working for the energy firms are facing the same dilemma as the rest of us – whether to eat or heat this winter).

Also, profit allows investment in the business, to make it better. We see no such investment by the energy firms. Indeed, efforts by the government to secure such investment were dismissed by them until the Tories made it a condition by which they could avoid the current windfall tax.

Meanwhile, the people heading up these firms have imported huge amounts of cash into their personal bank accounts. According to information circulating on the social media,

John Pettigrew, boss of National Grid received £6.5m bonus on top of his salary
Chris O’Shea, chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica was paid almost £2m last year in salary and benefits
Centrica’s non-executive directors were paid almost £1m
Scottish Power’s CEO Keith Anderson is on £1.15m.
E.On boss Michael Lewis is on £1m
EDF’s Simone Rossi is also on £1mAnd their top execs enjoyed a share of £4.65m

At the same time, there are

People who haven’t had breakfast and/or lunch TODAY, because they can’t afford it.
People using food banks because food is becoming more of a luxury than a necessity.
Children celebrating a birthday without presents.
Parents worrying about new school uniforms – and some schools enforcing rules which are not cost-effective.
People who can’t get to work because they can’t afford to put petrol in their cars/pay for public transport anymore.
People who are working so much they’re making themselves ill, and they STILL CAN’T AFFORD to pay their bills.
People who have been given fines by these same energy/water companies because they couldn’t afford to pay their bills in the first place – increasing their debt.
Customers being told to do STAR JUMPS TO KEEP WARM for crying out loud!
Hose pipe bans when gallons of water leak away every day.
Elderly people NOT DRINKING because they’re worried about running out of water!

It isn’t profit that is the problem; it is obscene profiteering that drains money from the economy when it could be used to improve the lives of millions of people – who actually created the profit in the first place.

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Polio is back – because privatised water firms were allowed to dump untreated sewage?

Rivers of Sh*t: Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to think about the details of his Brexit, and now the UK is suffering shortages of materials including those used to clean sewage. So partially-cleaned and harmful crap is going directly into our rivers – including faeces containing the polio virus, that could paralyse people who have not been vaccinated against it.

It’s true – a disease that we thought we had eradicated is back, due to Tory short-sightedness:

Here‘s a government press release on what has happened:

The UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA), working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has found poliovirus in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

As part of routine surveillance, it is normal for one to three ‘vaccine-like’ polioviruses to be detected each year in UK sewage samples but these have always been one-off findings that were not detected again. These previous detections occurred when an individual vaccinated overseas with the live oral polio vaccine (OPV) returned or travelled to the UK and briefly ‘shed’ traces of the vaccine-like poliovirus in their faeces.

Investigations are underway after several closely-related viruses were found in sewage samples taken between February and May. The virus has continued to evolve and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2), which on rare occasions can cause serious illness, such as paralysis, in people who are not fully vaccinated.

The detection of a VDPV2 suggests it is likely there has been some spread between closely-linked individuals in North and East London and that they are now shedding the type 2 poliovirus strain in their faeces. The virus has only been detected in sewage samples and no associated cases of paralysis have been reported – but investigations will aim to establish if any community transmission is occurring.

The last case of wild polio contracted in the UK was confirmed in 1984. The UK was declared polio-free in 2003.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA said:

Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low.

Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower. On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your Red Book. Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.

We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to swiftly report any suspected cases to the UKHSA, though no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.

Jane Clegg, Chief nurse for the NHS in London said:

The majority of Londoners are fully protected against Polio and won’t need to take any further action, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children aged under 5 in London who are not up to date with their Polio vaccinations to invite them to get protected.

Meanwhile, parents can also check their child’s vaccination status in their Red Book and people should contact their GP surgery to book a vaccination, should they or their child not be fully up to date.

The UK is considered by the World Health Organization to be polio-free, with low-risk for polio transmission due to the high level of vaccine coverage across the population. However, vaccine coverage for childhood vaccines has decreased nationally and especially in parts of London over the past few years, so UKHSA is urging people to check they are up to date with their vaccines.

Wastewater surveillance is being expanded to assess the extent of transmission and identify local areas for targeted action. Healthcare professionals have been alerted to these findings so they can promptly investigate and report anyone presenting with symptoms that could be polio, such as paralysis.

So it’s in the sewage and, because some people have decided not to vaccinate their children (based on a falsehood, as I understand it), there’s a risk that someone may catch polio and be paralysed.

And there are concerns that it may spread – or may have spread already. Well, with untreated sewage going directly into the rivers, it’s entirely possible, isn’t it?

Another brilliant Tory idea to cope with the consequences of their brilliant Brexit causes trouble.

ADDITIONAL: This is worrying:

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MPs can get their energy bills paid on expenses. Where’s YOUR get-out scheme?

House of expense accounts: we pay MPs’ heating bills on expenses for them. Why won’t they help us pay ours?

HaggisUK (below) has it right: it seems MPs think it’s fine for poor people to pay their energy bills via publicly-funded expenses, but they won’t lift a finger to help us when it comes to paying our own.

Watch this video and mark it well:

Confused?

Mark Spencer, Leader of the House of Commons, said there are much bigger challenges for the UK than you and I paying his energy bills for him – and then went on to say that the challenge he had in mind was how we pay our own bills.

I think he’s right!

Because our challenge is persuading MPs like Mark Spencer to help us in the way they force us to help them.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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So much for the low-tax, high-wage economy

Liz Truss: after Boris Johnson said the UK was set to become a high-wage economy, she has accused anybody seeking a wage rise above the current poverty levels of “militancy”. This is the true face of Tory.

So, only months after Boris Johnson said the UK was going to be a high-skill, high-wage – and, yes, low-tax – economy, anybody demanding a wage rise is “militant”.

Check out what Peter Stefanovic has to say about Liz Truss’s Tory turnabout:

He’s right, isn’t he?

And not only should Liz Truss not be prime minister, but she should never have been allowed into politics at all.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Riley libel trial: did she really abuse and harass a girl with mental illness?


Last time I discussed the trial, I promised to explain some of my reasons for believing that Rachel Riley had abused and harassed a teenager with mental ill-health.

Riley has denied any such behaviour, and one of the criticisms of my article is that I didn’t mention this (despite the fact that she had already broadcast it to far more people than I could reach, via her Twitter feed alone, and never mind her TV and other appearances before my article).

In fact, my Serial abuser article refers to her Twitter threads in which she did deny her behaviour (and attacked the girl and her father), so it was possible for readers to see what she had said if they wanted. And an update in November 2019 made it clear that Riley disputed some of the opinions in the piece and was suing me for libel over them.

So, what’s she complaining about?

The origin of the dialogue between Riley and the girl was a tweet she published on December 14, 2018. Here it is:

She was supporting a tweet by David Collier suggesting anti-Semitism by Owen Jones in an extremely suspicious way.

Lord Sugar had said he would leave the UK if Jeremy Corbyn was elected prime minister – but had not mentioned his own Jewish ethnicity as a reason. He said he feared for the future of his grandchildren and their children but provided an economic argument – that a Corbyn government would be “like watching the mother-in-law drive the family Ferrari off a cliff”.

After Jones tweeted “Celebrate good times, come on!” Mr Collier was the first person to mention Lord Sugar’s Jewish ethnicity. Riley expanded on it, as you can see from the tweet.

The girl – Rosie – spoke up. She tweeted that she was disappointed with Riley for supporting and promoting a false impression of Jeremy Corbyn, who she contended was not an anti-Semite but a pacifist who had won peace prizes (which is true).

Riley did not initially respond, but her supporters and Twitter followers did, subjecting Rosie to a considerable amount of vitriolic abuse. Rosie then complained:

She then tweeted that she wished to leave the discussion behind her, saying she had  “muted antisemitism and likewise from Twitter so I can stop being trolled”.

Sadly, more abuse followed, suggesting that whatever Rosie had done to get away had been unsuccessful, leading to a point where one of her abusers demanded that Rosie should apologise to Riley. Her response:

It was at this point that Riley decided to engage Rosie in discussion – the point at which Rosie was trying to get away. Why then?

There were possible good reasons for contact. Riley could have apologised for making a false accusation against Mr Corbyn. She could have explained her reasons for making that accusation. Or she could have made a statement disapproving of the abuse Rosie had received from her followers.

She did not have to do this in public. She could have honoured Rosie’s request not to perpetuate the abuse – which, by now, had developed into harassment by those of Riley’s followers who had refused to leave her alone, by contacting her via Direct Message.

In court, Riley’s counsel suggested that this would not have been possible because a Twitter users have to be following each other in order to send DMs. This is not true.

But Riley did not do any of these things. Instead, she send a seven-tweet thread to Rosie via public Twitter, ensuring that all of her followers, including the abusers were able to read what she had to say. The tweets could have been sent all at once but were instead “dripped” to Rosie at one, two or three-minute intervals which – to a person with anxiety issues, may be considered to be harassment by itself.

Here’s her first tweet:

You can see she chose to put Rosie down with the patronising “I’m sure you mean well,” at the start. Rosie herself was to comment on this later.

Then she commented on abuse – not by apologising for it or saying Rosie should not have suffered it. It’s “horrible for anyone to receive”, she said, which may be interpreted as a refusal to acknowledge that her followers had abused anybody at all.

It’s an astonishing comment – not least because the very next sentence is an act of abuse: “But what possible motive could I have for wanting to smear with lies about AS?” This is gaslighting.

I know what you may be thinking: she was responding to Rosie’s claim that she was smearing Mr Corbyn by suggesting that he and/or the Labour Party’s policies under his leadership, were anti-Semitic.

This is disproved by the tweet immediately following, in which Riley stated: “Plenty of Labour member are up in arms with what’s going on within their party, is it all a smear?”

So Riley was trying to pretend that she had not said Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour policies were anti-Semitic, but that there was a large amount of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. This was not what she had stated, as you can see by checking upwards.

Going back to her first tweet, Riley then employed a well-known dogpiling tactic known as “tagging-in” – including other Twitter users in her thread so they would read it – people familiar with the issue under debate, who may then read what Riley had said, draw the wrong conclusion about what was going on, and act against Rosie themselves (or encourage their own followers to do so).

You see how dogpiling works? This tactic puts distance between the person causing the dogpile and those carrying it out as there is no direct call to action. But all the elements required for that action to take place are there.

Note also that both the people tagged into that first tweet are described as being involved with mental health – a further put-down of Rosie, who was not only a sufferer of mental illness but a campaigner for better mental health care for teenagers.

And all that is just in Riley’s first tweet! Around 50 more were to follow.

I’ll skim over much of the rest of the first thread, because Riley mostly discussed herself and her own education in anti-Semitism.

But at the end, she states:

“You can have a @UKLabour party who fight for people AND don’t promote or ignore antisemitism. But you’ll have to fight for it now.” More gaslighting.

And then:

Guilt by association – with imaginary people. Riley tweeted “I imagine” Rosie had received praise, but “not” from “the type of people I’d be wanting praise from”. How would she know – was it because she had just invented these people?

And how was Rosie “echoing popular opinion” when the mass media had whipped public feeling against Corbyn?

The offer to answer any questions is yet more gaslighting, of course – Riley was putting herself forward as the expert, suggesting that Rose knew nothing.

Finally – and this is damning: “and I’m far from ashamed”. That’s a direct reference back to Rosie’s claim that Riley should feel ashamed because she had been “subjected to horrible abuse for standing up against some of the awful media you have been sharing”.

Riley was saying she was not ashamed of causing this abuse, which could be interpreted as a call for her followers (and anybody else who had become involved as a result of reading this thread) to inflict more on this vulnerable girl.

That’s a lot of abuse, a hint of harassment, and some apparent encouragement of dogpiling – all in a single thread.

Worse was to follow.

I still have to finish paying for my legal representation at the trial. If you are as horrified by the above information as I was when I read it in early January 2019, please support my CrowdJustice fund in one or more of the following ways:

Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Use other social media in the same way.

And don’t forget that if you’re having trouble, or simply don’t like donating via CrowdJustice, you can always donate direct to me via the Vox Political PayPal button at the bottom of this article, where it appears on that website. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!

I’ll continue this with more of my evidence to the trial later.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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