Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?
It doesn’t matter what Theresa Villiers says; people in the UK are being told chlorine-washed chicken is “delicious” in a bid to brainwash us into accepting the substandard fare post-Brexit.
Ms Villiers, the Environment Secretary, has said chlorine-washed chicken would not be allowed into the UK as part of a prospective trade deal with the United States.
But in a letter The Sunday Times seemed happy to publish, US ambassador Woody Johnson (yes, that’s his real name and I wonder if he realises its euphemistic significance) demanded that chlorine-washed chicken should remain on the table during talks (I know; that’s hardly hygienic).
He claimed chlorine washes are “the most effective and economical way to fight food-borne illness” – but that’s not the point.
The issue is not only about making sure the meat is free of germs that could have attached themselves to it after slaughter; it’s about American-raised chickens being kept in such poor conditions that they are riddled with disease.
We would be eating diseased meat. At least, that’s the implication.
And there’s another question: if this spokesman for US chicken really did care about food standards, why not advocate that American producers raise theirs to the UK level? Why must we always accept the lowest standards available?
The trouble is that, by maintaining it as an issue – possibly one that could stop a trade deal, and by pushing it to an impressionable public as a viable alternative, the ambassador is normalising it; making it acceptable.
What does it say about our government that it even entertains such notions?
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Boris Johnson and Kim Darroch: One of these men is a competent diplomat and the other is a buffoon who rarely thinks before speaking. Which is which?
The Western Hemisphere seems to be losing the plot over Kim Darroch, the UK’s ambassador to the United States.
It seems he described US president Donald Trump as “incompetent” and “insecure”, and his administration as “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional” in diplomatic memoranda that were not meant to become public knowledge.
Mr Trump has made a fuss, saying Sir Kim should be removed from office because “he is not well thought-of in the US. We will no longer deal with him”.
He has been supported by his good buddy Nigel Farage, who has called for the senior diplomat to be sacked.
It seems the leak was carried out in revenge for the ambassador’s alleged failure to promote a pro-Brexit UK.
Messrs Trump and Farage also seem well-briefed on this aspect of it, after the information was given to pro-Brexit hack Isabel Oakeshott.
Mr Trump tweeted:
….thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him. The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister. While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!
The operative part is “I have been very critical about the way the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit. What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way.”
And Mr Farage said a future government under Boris Johnson, the Tory leadership front-runner, would be expected to remove Sir Kim: “If you take Boris at his word, people like Kim Darroch simply shouldn’t be around.”
How very unprofessional of them.
The simple fact is that it is Kim Darroch’s job to brief the UK government on his view of US political figures.
As a Foreign Office representative stated: “The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country.”
The fault lies with the Brexiteer (presumably) who leaked the memos – not with the ambassador.
And that is why (for a change) I find myself agreeing with Conservative politicians.
I agree with Liam Fox, who said: “Malicious leaks of this nature are unprofessional. They are unethical. And they are unpatriotic. Because they can actually lead to damage to that relationship which can, therefore, affect our security interests.
“I will be apologising for the fact that either our civil service, or elements of our political class, have not lived up to the expectations that either we have, or the United States has, about their behaviour, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way.”
At the time of writing – and to the best of my knowledge – Boris Johnson, who has been treated favourably by both Mr Trump and Mr Farage, has yet to comment on this matter.
Was this all a stunt to make BoJob look useful on the international stage?
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.
On latest Jeremy Hunt wheeze (‘business leaders to replace trained ambassadors’) – we have 20 yrs experience of recruiting Trade Ministers from ‘business.’ Each of them have lasted about a year, having bagged the peerage & achieved little if anything. Think Digby Jones
Boris Johnson: Nothing to say. Is that better than talking nonsense?
The mainstream news is reporting that the UK government is denying access to Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, even to members of their family – and also that Boris Johnson is refusing requests for a meeting with the Russian ambassador.
Some may be angered by the denial of access to Skripal family members. I am not one of those people.
This is a highly-charged moment between the UK and Russia. It would be unreasonable to believe the Russian government is not putting pressure on Skripal family members within its influence – such as cousin Viktoria – to exert similar pressure on Sergei and Yulia to act in the interests of that country. Pressure of a sinister nature, that is.
Rather than allow this to happen, possibly endangering more members of the Skripal family, it would be better to deny them access, thereby making it impossible for the Russian government to blame them for failing to persuade (coerce) their family members into doing and saying what Russia wants.
Boris Johnson’s reason for refusing to meet the Russian ambassador is obvious, of course: He has nothing to say.
All the UK’s claims about Russian involvement in the Salisbury poisonings have collapsed as evidence has mounted up against them.
If Mr Johnson were to meet the Russian ambassador, he would have nothing to say but “sorry”.
And Boris Johnson is far too arrogant ever to say that to Johnny Foreigner. He’s a racist, remember?
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Momentum’s former vice-chair, Jackie Walker: Does she look like an anti-Semite now? [Image: Andy Hall for the Observer].
Isn’t it funny how these people are starting to be pulled into the light, when they thought they could play their dirty little accusation games from the shadows.
It’s like a game of aggressive-Zionist join-the-dots now; Shai Masot leads to Labour Friends of Israel, and from there on to the Jewish Labour Movement and who knows where.
This Writer has to wonder whether this conspiracy – and it is a conspiracy, have no doubt about that – would have been rumbled if, for example, people like myself hadn’t objected to the claims of anti-Semitism when they were levelled at Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn last summer.
I was warned off, you know. Good friends told me to be very careful of what I was saying, because the people I was accusing are “very dangerous indeed”.
Maybe they are, but facts have a habit of getting out. And while my articles back then produced a strong opposing – verbal – reaction from certain of our favourite figures and organisations (including a few of the kind of ad hominem claims mentioned below) there have been no bullets or bombs (yet).
They also seem to have got people thinking.
When Jackie Walker (mentioned in the Mondoweiss article quoted below) was accused at the Labour Party Conference, it seems more alarm bells started ringing.
And now we have the Al-Jazeera investigation (why not BBC? Why not ITV? Why not Channel 4 or the British mainstream print media?) that revealed Shai Masot and his little network of … I think they’re being called “infiltrators”.
It is time to root out every last one of these operators.
Anybody who has been involved in the anti-Semitism witch-hunt within the Labour Party last summer needs to be pulled in and checked out. That includes Paul Staines of the Guido Fawkes blog. It includes John Mann, who accused Ken Livingstone. Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who gave evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee when it was accusing Mr Corbyn, would be worth questioning – as would every member of the committee itself, as their performances in the evidence sessions made it clear that they had already made up their minds before asking a single question.
Some of them might have nothing to do with it – perhaps all of them. But that has yet to be demonstrated.
What about Jackie Walker’s accusers in the Jewish Labour Movement – and, for that matter, in Momentum?
What about the national newspaper writers and editors who reported each story?
The list of possible suspects gets ever-larger, and is likely to grow even further, if these people are contacted and questioned in a thorough manner.
The issues here are serious. We are being told that agents of a foreign country have infiltrated our institutions and undermined our foreign policy with false accusations against our politicians and political figures.
As the extract below shows, the trail leads back at least as far as Mark Regev – and he is Israel’s ambassador to the UK.
At the very least, this is a major diplomatic incident.
So why is the Conservative Government refusing to take the necessary investigative steps?
While an Israeli operative’s efforts to “take down” Britain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, may appear to be the biggest scandal to arise out of Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary The Lobby, what became clear to me throughout the four-part series was that the primary function of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and other pro Israel groups in the UK working with the Israeli embassy was smearing Palestinians and their supporters with charges of anti Semitism and other nefarious ad hominem claims.
Jackie Walker, former vice-chair of Momentum, the left wing of the Labour party, called this “a constructed crisis for political ends”.
Evidence of this runs throughout the four-part series. Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, at a private meeting held during the annual Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last September, advises key activist leaders of Labour’s pro-Israel contingent on strategy and talking points:
“Why are people who consider themselves progressive in Britain, supporting reactionaries like Hamas and Hezbollah? We’ve gotta say in the language of social democracy, I think, these people are misogynistic, they are homophobic, they are racist, they are anti-Semitic, they are reactionary. I think that’s what we need to say, it’s an important message.”
Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, is captured saying in conversation at Labour’s annual conference that anti-Semitism is “the defining narrative actually now”. Defining narrative of what? The Labour party? Or the LFI’s strategy of taking down the leftwing branch of the party?
[Ella Rose] reveals a trajectory of what could be perceived as a strategy of accusation (of anti semitism), a gotcha focus with the objective of trapping people, as a means of one-upsmanship so as to advance the profile of the Jewish Labour Movement on the right flank of Labour, aligned with the faction of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
The suggestion by critics that anything untoward is taking place is angrily rebuffed. Labour’s right flank postures itself as the real victims– for being accused of falsely accusing! For example, Michael Foster, a generous Jewish donor (£700,000) to Labour, last summer accused Corbyn supporters of behaving like “Nazi stormtroopers”, and was suspended by the party for the abuse, leading to yet more glaring Blame-Corbyn headlines in the British press.
As for those targeted, the bigger fish the better, beginning with Jeremy Corbin, of course, and his supporters in Momentum, like Walker. Labour party members are targeted for re-education programs through Labour Party trainings on anti-Semitism, and if you slip up you’re subject to an inquisition with the threat of being thrown out of the party, loudly and publicly with the press cheering it on.
The ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK, as envisioned by political cartoonist Ben Jennings. My way is better, I think.
(But don’t think for a moment that I would put myself forward.)
The news has been full of nonsense about Donald Trump wanting Nigel Farage to be the UK’s ambassador to the United States, in return for whatever services Farage managed to deliver for the Trump presidential campaign.
We may conclude from this that Mr Trump wishes to hand out appointments as rewards for services delivered to him – personally – rather than to the best person for his country, or to request that they are made along those lines.
I disagree with this; it shows poor leadership – leadership by cronyism.
The best leadership is, of course, leadership by example. Let me provide an example of it, in support of the claim in the headline.
This Writer recently met and befriended a young lady who is a US citizen – the granddaughter of an acquaintance who lives here in Mid Wales. She is travelling around the world and stopped off to visit her grandma for a while.
As bad luck would have it, her grandma fell ill yesterday and was rushed to hospital in a town more than 30 miles away – unbeknownst to the American granddaughter.
Finding out later, the young lady was beside herself. She was terribly concerned for her grandma’s safety but had absolutely no way of travelling to the hospital to find out more (nobody here would tell her anything).
So I gave her a lift. It was a simple act of kindness that generated a huge amount of goodwill.
Now let’s get metaphorical. I’m the UK’s ambassador to the US; the granddaughter is the US. Are you with me so far?
As ambassador, I provided vital help to the US at a time of need. I don’t want any personal favours in return. As I mentioned before, the best leadership is leadership by example – I want the US to remember what I did and help someone else when they need it.
(From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs – but don’t tell the Americans who coined that phrase!)
Of course, because it was a UK representative that gave aid when the US needed it, the US is grateful, and it may be that the UK (the country, not the representative) receives preferential treatment from now on – the reputation of the country as a whole improves as a result of the actions of the ambassador.
So, from a simple act of goodwill, several very beneficial results follow – not just for the US and the UK, but hopefully for other countries as well.
Therefore I would be a better ambassador to the United States than a selfish toad like Nigel Farage.
His attitude can be judged from his behaviour as a Member of the European Parliament – get paid a fortune and do nothing.
It was a stupid idea, but then stupid ideas are all the Conservatives have.
After Jeremy Corbyn’s overwhelming victory in the Labour Party leadership election, David Cameron – who, let’s remember, is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – stupidly tweeted that “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security”.
The put-downs flew thick and fast – and This Blog has already mentioned some of them. But surely the hardest response came from the Russian Embassy, which gave a devastating criticism of Cameron’s behaviour while also reminding him that he has abandoned his responsibilities as PM.
Here’s the tweet:
Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko followed up with this endorsement of the new Labour leader: “Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn. Hope for positive change in terms of debate, including on our relations.”
Mr Corbyn has hinted he would pursue warmer diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia.
It is clear that the arrival of Mr Corbyn is pushing Cameron out into the cold.
This is how the Labour Party responded to ‘memogate’. SNP supporters were incensed but it has not been proved wrong.
It was an official memo, it was leaked by the Scotland office – at the bidding of the Secretary of State, no less, and there’s no reason to believe that it is inaccurate.
That is the finding of the Cabinet Office’s report into the leaking of a confidential memo to the Daily Telegraph, which stated that Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, had told the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in February that she would “rather see” David Cameron win the general election because Ed Miliband is not “prime minister material”.
The Torygraph story sparked outrage among supporters of the SNP, many of whom attacked this blog for reporting the story. It seems certain people owe This Writer a serious apology.
According to the Cabinet Office report, “The investigation team interviewed the civil servant in the Scotland Office who produced the memo. He confirmed under questioning that he believed that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General, and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been ‘lost in translation’.
“Senior officials who have worked with him say that he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.”
This means there is no reason to believe claims that the memo is inaccurate. The “lost in translation” comment cannot refer to the conversation between the civil servant and the French Consul General, and must refer to his understanding, or recollection, of the account he heard of the conversation between Ms Sturgeon and the Ambassador.
The Consul General has, of course, denied that he said any such thing as is described in the memo. He would, wouldn’t he?
The memo was leaked to the Torygraph by Euan Roddin, special advisor to then-Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael. The Cabinet Office report states: “Mr Roddin… told the investigation team that he acted in what he saw as the public interest and that in his view the public needed to be aware of the position attributed to the First Minister.”
Alistair Carmichael, who is a Liberal Democrat, has admitted authorising the leak. Vox Political commenter Joan Edington suggested at the time that it could have come from the Secretary of State, so kudos to her.
He has since apologised and given assurances that, if he had remained Secretary of State, he would have considered this a matter requiring his resignation. Neither he nor Mr Roddin will be receiving their severance pay.
He has also apologised to Nicola Sturgeon, saying “details of the account are not correct”. This is curious, as he has no reason to suggest it.
Nicola Sturgeon has been quick to claim that the report clears her of any dodgy behaviour. This is not true.
The memo, from an impartial source, states that she said she would prefer to have David Cameron as Prime Minister and we have only the comments of people with an interest in denying that claim to back her up.
On balance, it seems very unlikely that she didn’t say she supported Cameron.
It would clarify what seemed to be a contradiction in the SNP’s election campaign, in that the party was attacking Labour hard in Scotland, while apparently claiming it wanted to do a deal with Labour in order to keep the Conservatives out of office. If the SNP’s leader was in fact supporting Cameron, then the “deal” rhetoric was a lie and the campaign against Labour north of the border makes sense.
This would, of course, mean that she was lying, bare-faced, to the public all the way through the general election campaign period.
It will be up all of us to decide what we think is the truth, based on what Ms Sturgeon – and her party – does next.
Does she prefer him to Miliband? It would help her cause to have a government to fight against, but there are too many unknowns about the Telegraph’s story for anybody to be certain – yet.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been quietly telling other people that while she outwardly says Ed Miliband should be the next Prime Minister, she secretly supports David Cameron – or has she?
The details are in a memo allegedly “seen” by reporters for the Daily Torygraph. The story broke the day after Ms Sturgeon struck a chord with the British public in the televised leader debate with support for many of Mr Miliband’s policies, and on the same day that it was claimed the Conservative Party was putting together a deal with the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
SNP cultists (the rabid members of that party’s following who refuse to see any wrong in what its leaders do) instantly leapt on the story, demanding that it was not true, that its writers should resign and its publishers apologise, and all the usual things they say.
The basic details of the story are that Ms Sturgeon told the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in February that she would “rather see” David Cameron win the general election because Ed Miliband is not “prime minister material. The comment forms part of a leaked memorandum written by “a senior British civil servant” and dated March 6.
The story states: “It is a common diplomatic courtesy if an ambassador to the UK visits one of the three devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for the British Government to be given an official readout of the conversation although the SNP leader, who has only been in position since the autumn, may have been unaware of this formality… The disclosure of her private comments may undermine Miss Sturgeon’s new-found popularity.”
Spokespeople for Ms Sturgeon and the French Embassy have stated forcibly that the story is not true. The Foreign Office has denied the existence of such a memo and the Scotland Office… well, the Scotland Office says it doesn’t give out information about them. Hmm.
In response to repeated calls to show proof that the memo exists, the Torygraph published what it described as the “full text of Nicola Sturgeon memo” – but failed to show photographic evidence that would indicate that it was an official government document (not that the SNP cultists would have accepted this – they have already said they would not).
As a reporter, the situation disturbs This Writer. The libel laws of this country are extremely robust and it would be the height of foolishness for any newspaper to risk prosecution under those laws, just to drive the ‘Crosby wedge’ between two political parties (Conservative strategist Lynton Crosby campaigns on a ‘divide and conquer’ basis, meaning that he will seek to end alliances by any means).
Journalists are warned to make sure every detail of a potentially contentious story is supported by hard evidence – and also to get ‘balancing’ comments from the people named in the story if possible. If not, they should have the right of reply. The Torygraph story did not contain any such remarks from Ms Sturgeon when it came out, but does carry the claim that it is untrue at the time of writing.
Scottish Labour leapt on the story as evidence that Ms Sturgeon is not to be trusted; the argument is that, obviously, if you want independence, it is easier for your cause to have a government you can actively fight – witness this tweet from ScotLab: “Devastating: @Telegraph reporting Nicola Sturgeon secretly backs Cameron #voteSNPgetTories”
And this one, from Frances Hinde: “Sturgeon has calculated that a Tory gov. is best for her aim of breaking up UK- course she wants a Tory government.”
Scottish Labour followed up the tweet with this image:
Mark Ferguson of LabourList took a more balanced view: “For many of the SNP’s online hardcore base, this Sturgeon story will be viewed as conspiracy. Pause for thought for undecided voters though.”
The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent Severin Carrell tweeted: “French consul general tells @GdnScotland no such views given by @NicolaSturgeon ‘absolutely no preference was expressed’ on #GE2015 outcome.” But then, the French consul general would say that, in order to prevent ill-feeling against France itself.
Simon Johnson, the story’s co-author, responded: “The man said what he said in private to the UK Government. It’s in black and white,” and then stopped tweeting for the evening – which some may also have viewed with suspicion.
Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK fame, tweeted: “Try as I might I just can’t imagine Nicola Sturgeon discussing possible election outcomes the way that is being suggested.” He continued: “The Sturgeon / French story is a non-eye witness London civil servant version of events that all participants say did not occur. Odd that.”
Perhaps we would be best-served by asking what this achieves. Mhairi Grealis tweeted: “The question here is who stands 2 benefit from trashing Sturgeon. No SNP voter will buy this so..?”
Is this true? Certainly no SNP cultist would, but they are only a certain percentage of the Scottish population. Many are planning to vote SNP because they have been persuaded to; this could persuade them back…
… but only back to Labour. What does the Conservative Party have to gain from this?
You see, the bottom-line assumption has to be that the aim of the story is to benefit the Conservatives. The paper responsible for all this isn’t called the Torygraph for nothing!
The SNP’s Angus McNeil tweeted the following image:
The trouble with this cartoon is that it claims an innate racism in the Labour Party that isn’t there. “That’s the Scots telt!!” says the Labour apparatchik, as though Labour thinks all the Scottish people need somehow to be put in their place. It’s a gross assumption from the SNP cultists, and one that does them no services at all.
“The Telegraph provided Labour with a gun – they duly obliged,” he tweeted. But this claim that Labour shot itself in the foot by seizing on the story only works if the majority of people who were persuaded to vote SNP aren’t persuaded against the SNP again by this story. And that is by no means certain.
Certainly, as a maxim, it is true that Labour would be ill-advised to put too much credence in a Tory-supporting newspaper’s story, without a lot more evidence; there remain too many uncertainties about this story to predict the likely outcome.
Perhaps Eoin Clarke is right: “Labour & SNP have both ruled out a Coalition. UKIP & the Tory Party have not. Torygraph smear is to divert attention.
Maybe. But at the time of writing the story is still the Torygraph‘s lead, and we have a possible source for it in the Scotland Office.
The rabid SNP supporters will do their cause no favours by denying it outright and pointing the finger at Labour; Scottish Labour will do its cause no good by blindly supporting it and pointing the finger at the SNP.
Perhaps we should all look to the Torygraph and its reporter Simon Johnson – and pile on the pressure for hard facts.
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