Andrew Bridgen: winner of this week’s “Inverse Genius” award.
Everyone with any political nous in the UK has been laughing at eurosceptic Andrew Bridgen after he swallowed both feet (metaphorically) in a Channel 4 News interview.
Discussing his Fuhrer Boris Johnson’s plan to renege on the EU withdrawal agreement that he signed in January, Bridgen said – well, see for yourself:
The reaction on Twitter has been universal:
The preposterous Andrew Bridgen on #c4news telling us all that the EU are crumbling under the pressure. Also purports to know about the Irish border issues. Remember this was the man who believed anyone in the UK could apply for an Irish passport.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen on #C4News: “The EU have far more to lose from not having a deal because they sell us so much more and there’s going to [be] huge pressure from the [EU27] members. That’s why Barnier is going to be sidelined.”
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.
Every time I write about Tory rules on sex in the Covid-19 lockdown, Google Adsense tries to penalise me for “extreme content”.
I kid you not – twice now I have been forced to demand a review, and twice it has come down in my favour.
I feel like the late, great Peter Cushing, whenever he was asked to justify the latest Hammer horror film. People would say, “Peter! This film is awful! The script is diabolical, the monster is creakier than the script… How can you be involved in something like this?”
And he would respond: “We’ve made another.
Well, here’s another article about lockdown sex – although in my defence, it’s about a TV show that somebody else has made.
According to my brother, the Beast, Channel 4 is getting on the bandwagon and on Friday (June 12) will screen Sex in Lockdown: Keep Shagging and Carry On.
He quotes the show’s blurb as follows: “Anna Richardson delves into the ways sex in Britain has altered since we’ve been in lockdown. People from across the nation talk to her about their experiences as she gets to grips with all things love, sex and romance in these unique times, from a separated couple who created a replica penis, to a singleton breaking the rules to have sex outdoors.
“Well, there’s a title to thwack you between the eyes. Most of us are coping with social distancing, but how does sexual distancing work in these restrictive times, if you don’t actually live with your lover? If you crave an outlet for your desires, but Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Grindr have ground to a halt? If you’re just craving a bit of romance?
“Anna Richardson, the writer, host of C4’s dating show Naked Attraction and partner of Sue Perkins, grapples with this topic – virtually, one hopes – and talks to Brits up and down the land, from a separated couple who created a replica penis to a singleton who flouted the rules to revel in sex outdoors.”
Personally, I’m not up for being thwacked between the eyes – certainly not with a separated couple’s replica penis. But I wonder whether any of the celebrity shaggers mentioned on This Site over the last few weeks will get a look-in.
Will boffin Neil Ferguson be mentioned, who resigned from a scientific advisory role with the government after he broke lockdown to boff his married lover?
Will questions be asked about Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who quit as a Labour whip to disport herself with a married man?
Will the show unearth other high-profile shagamuffins?
Will I get another rap on the knuckles from Adsense?
Yes, that seems most likely.
I may as well announce my soon-to-be-published porno bodice ripping classic Legover Crisis: Why I Must Spend More Time With My Family by The Hon. Willie Poker MP.
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.
The senior politicians were lured to a luxury Mayfair office (pictured) where they were secretly filmed discussing being paid for telling Chinese tycoons how to make money out of Britain leaving the European Union [Image from the Daily Mail].
But is this the story the Sunday Times dropped for its fake news about a left-wing purge of Labour MPs?
A political storm erupted … over claims that three former Cabinet ministers secretly tried to earn thousands of pounds in a ‘cash for Brexit’ scandal.
The senior politicians were lured to a luxury Mayfair office where they were secretly filmed discussing being paid for telling Chinese tycoons how to make money out of Britain leaving the European Union.
Those targeted were ex-Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, and ex-Trade Secretary Peter Lilley. All three … denied wrongdoing.
The latest Westminster sleaze claims follow a three-month investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme.
Never mind the robotic Mrs Maybe, here’s Foot-in-mouth Philip Hammond! [Image: The Sun (I believe).]
Kudos are due to those eager little ferrets at Channel 4 News. Most of us needed a dose of anti-depressants and a lie-down after Philip Hammond’s Tory conference speech, but they’ve been busy debunking his lies about the Labour Party.
Well, three of them, at least.
First, the team examined the Zombie Chancellor’s claim that living standards have doubled since 1979.
The chancellor is right that living standards have doubled since Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979.
But he’s wrong to suggest that this date marked a turning point, with an increased rate of improvement. In reality, it has now slumped.
The official measure of living standards, dating back to 1961… shows there was no significant change in living standards after 1979. Living standards remained on roughly the same trajectory all the way up until the financial crash of 2008. Since then, under the Conservatives, living standards have failed to catch up with the pre-recession trend. The IFS described the growth in average income as “very weak”, post-recession.
Oh dear! So standards have slumped under the Conservatives – and Mr Hammond tried to pretend they’ve improved hugely! Shame on him.
Ah, but how about the claim that Mr Corbyn wants to turn the UK into a regime similar to (stop laughing at the back!) North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe?
There seems little grounds to compare Labour’s policies to those of authoritarian regimes. It is true that these countries exert high levels of state control; and it is also true that Mr Corbyn’s agenda would see a bigger, more active state in the UK. But the two things are on a completely different scale.
Many of the key policy pledges in Labour’s election manifesto are already in place in numerous modern western democracies. These include free tuition fees, nationalised railways, higher corporation tax and rent controls.
So Mr Corbyn’s policies are more mainstream than the current Conservative government’s, then.
Doesn’t that make Mr Hammond the extremist?
Finally, the FactCheck team moved onto Mr Hammond’s claim that Labour wants to “demolish our successful modern market economy and replace with a back-to-the-future socialist fantasy.”
I think by now we can all tell who’s the fantasist, but for the sake of completeness:
He is accusing Mr Corbyn of completely opposing free market capitalism. But opposing neo-liberalism (which is associated with freer markets and deregulation) does not, in itself, mean that Mr Corbyn is opposed to market economics – merely that he is against that particular form of it. He makes no mention of scrapping “market economics,” but instead simply suggests there should be a bigger role for the public sector.
You’d think the humilation would have ended there, but no! There’s a sting in the tail for the mendacious Hammond: After all his claims about Labour wanting to end free-market economics, it turns out that the Tories aren’t all that keen on such a system either – in fact, they manipulate it to suit themselves.
Indeed, the Conservative Party itself does not believe in a completely unrestricted free market – a belief which was spelled out in its manifesto.
“We do not believe in untrammelled free markets,” it said, adding that the government could make “consumer markets work more fairly”.
“Markets need rules and these rules need to be updated to reflect our changing economy.”
Dismissed, Mr Hammond. Go back to your grave and mull over your transgressions.
Lettie, the Tory Brexiteer [Image: Channel 4/First Dates].
The United Kingdom remains a nation divided in all but name, thanks to the idiotic decision by Tory David Cameron to hold a referendum on our membership of the European Union to maintain unity in his own Parliamentary party.
His gambit didn’t work, by the way.
The cracks are even showing on reality TV, as this article in The Lad Bible demonstrates:
It’s divided a nation for over a year, so you can imagine it also split opinion on a first date also.
Twenty-three-year-old Lettie, a political activist, was set up on a date with Cambridge graduate Fred, 26, on Channel 4’s First Dates.
It was an obvious question for two educated, politically-minded individuals. And with one opting for leave, with the other remain, you can imagine that settled well.
Fred… asked: “When you came in here, were you hoping for someone of the same political bent?”
Lettie answered no, but then Brexit arrived. She herself a leaver, soon discovered that she was sat face-to-face with a remainer.
“Let’s struggle gamely on, as Boris Johnson would say,” joked Fred. It left a nice awkward silence between the pair.
It was not to be. Just like Britain and the EU, it appears the second date did not end well. In the closing sequences to First Dates, we are told the pair ‘struggled to maintain a united front’ and that ‘both plan to stay in the single market for now’.
Are you as utterly sick of televised ‘poverty porn’ as you should be?
Night after night, main offenders Channel 4, Channel 5 – and even the BBC – flood their schedules with nonsense films designed to misinform the public about the lives of the deprived and enlist your collusion in their demonization and destruction.
It’s time somebody put a stop to it, and the United Disability Resistance Movement (UDRM) wants your help to achieve this.
“Some of us have recently been looking at asking our members to write a … letter to the individual members of OFCOM about the media portrayal of benefits ‘scroungers’,” wrote a UDRM representative in a message to This Blog yesterday.
“We think all should unite, able and disabled against the media rhetoric and narrative.
“At UDRM we are convinced that, if all protest groups worked together, we would stand a much better chance of changing things because we all want the same thing in the end. We believe there’s strength in numbers and we are already working with some other groups under the banner of ‘Unite and Fight’.”
The group is asking for anyone who agrees that ‘poverty porn’ should be stopped to send a copy of the following letter to one, many or all of the Ofcom members listed below, indicating their support for the points it makes, in a short campaign over two days between Saturday and Sunday (August 8-9).
It’s up to you.
Here’s the letter. Please consider joining this campaign.
Dear [insert name],
I am writing to complain about the number of programmes on mainstream British television and radio and in British print media at the moment which vilify, target and demonise people who are claiming welfare benefits.
People are being mocked and their struggles are being seen as entertainment when, in fact, it is day-to-day existence for many and not a fictitious variation of shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Sanctions, starvation and evictions are not ‘amusing’ or a joke, they are a reality for many and are horrifying in their brutality. People have died.
Programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ and ‘Benefits Britain, Life on the Dole’ perpetuate the myth that claiming welfare benefits is a lifestyle choice. Vitriolic articles by so-called commentators such as Katie Hopkins incite hatred. Benefit claimants, migrants and job seekers are being portrayed as scroungers who have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and modern-day begging. This is not the case. People claim benefits because there is nothing else they can do. People claim benefits because they were born disabled or have become sick later in life. People claim benefits because they have lost their jobs and have been unable to secure a new role. People claim benefits because employers are paying minimum, starvation wages and they cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. People claim benefits because they need help. People claim benefits because they have no choice. This is not entertainment, this is disgusting, this is frightening; this is tragedy.
Further to this, ‘Poverty Porn’ has alarming knock-on effects on the way people who have no choice but to claim benefits to survive are viewed. The result of this misinformation is the alarming increase in hate crime against those who are claiming benefits. Spying on friends and neighbours is encouraged. covert filming and recording is rife. According to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014 there was a 213 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for hate crime against disabled people. In 2011 the report, ‘Ready Willing and Able’ highlighted the fact that 38 percent of the general public perceived disabled people to be a burden on society. On 24 April 2015 the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein compared British print media’s attitude to migrants to propaganda in 1930s Nazi Germany.
The TUC has stated that “The government’s austerity programme is reshaping the welfare State through cuts in benefits and the privatisation of public services, including health, education and drastically reduced state support. The impact of benefits cuts and of the associated campaign of demonisation of disabled people, the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups has been catastrophic. Crimes motivated by hate have wider and deeper roots, but austerity has made the problems worse.” This is not healthy. This is frightening. This can only lead to the further disintegration of our society.
I am asking OFCOM to look into this trend in the British media to publicise non-stop ‘poverty porn’ in print, on the radio and on television. I am asking OFCOM to do the right thing. I am asking OFCOM to have the courage to say ‘No More’. The public should be shown the true stories of the struggling majority, not the glamorisation of the extreme minority. Over many years the British press has been lauded for its fairness and unbiased reporting. Please do not allow this to change.
Greville Janner: He will face paedophilia charges after all.
It’s what some might call a ‘happy coincidence’: Reports emerged that the decision not to prosecute former politician Greville Janner for alleged historic child sex offences, at almost the same time comedian Adam Hills was raging about the way politicians have been able to cover up such activities in the past.
The rant, on Channel 4’s The Last Leg, was well worth seeing. For those who missed it, here it is, but be warned – he uses extremely strong language:
In Janner’s case, we are told a barrister has spent several weeks examining the evidence as part of an independent review, and has concluded there should be a hearing of the allegations. A decision, expected next week, would overturn the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision in April not to pursue the peer, who is said to have dementia.
The move would put pressure on the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to resign. She was criticised after it emerged that several other alleged paedophiles who have been diagnosed with dementia have still been pursued through the courts, and a review of the decision was announced last month.
The evidence could be tested in a criminal court in a ‘trial of facts’. The judge would declare at the outset that Janner is unfit for trial, but then ask a jury to decide – on the basis of the evidence – whether he committed the acts of which he has been accused.
There could be no verdict that he is guilty and no criminal sentence – but the jury could make a hospital order, a supervision order or an order for the defendant’s absolute discharge. This would be in order to protect the public, although it is unlikely that Janner is capable of any misdeeds in his condition.
This raises an interesting question: Can we have a ‘trial of facts’ in the cases of other MPs, against whom allegations have been made but who cannot – for many reasons – be punished?
The Blog has no intention of making unsupportable allegations but there are many questions hanging over the name Leon Brittan that deserve to be resolved – along with many others.
While the public may not need to be protected from them – especially if they are dead – isn’t there an argument to be made that they should not be held up as a good example to others, if the allegations about them are true?
As the lights went down, Paxman was heard asking, “You all right, Ed?” Perhaps it was a cynical way of trying to make Miliband seem weak. His response – “I’m all right. You?” turned that around.
There was a point in last night’s Battle for Number 10 TV interview with Ed Miliband when an audience member told Ed Miliband, “All the money was spent by Labour. Liberalisation of banks was under Labour,” basically demanding that the current Labour leader take responsibility for the financial crisis and the austerity the Conservative-led Coalition imposed afterwards.
Miliband started his answer by referring to the questioner as Tim, but had misheard and was quickly put right by the man more correctly known as Dean. The Labour leader admitted that Labour had got matters partly wrong by under-regulating the banks (although he did also point out that other parties – like the Conservatives – wanted even less regulation at the time).
Well, Dean – you got off lightly there. In fact, Ed Miliband could have roasted you alive because your question started from a false premise. Labour didn’t spend all the money, Dean. Labour’s financial record during its time in government is in fact better than any previous Conservative government for the past 50 years, Dean. Labour was forced into a corner in which it had to pay out hundreds of billions of pounds in order to save your bank account, Dean. The financial crisis was a global phenomenon, Dean. In this country it was caused by Tory-voting bankers, Dean. They had promised blind that they could behave responsibly and did not need a nanny looking over their shoulder, Dean. It was the bankers who ruined the country, Dean – Labour had to try to sort out the mess afterwards.
And Labour was doing a good job until the 2010 election happened and George Osborne replaced Alistair Darling at the Treasury. In one ’emergency’ budget, he reversed all the good work Labour had done and plunged us into three years of stagnation. But we didn’t hear Dean talking about that.
Of course, Dean won’t be reading this article so he won’t know that he was wrong. His type sail through life in their little bubbles of ignorance, never noticing the effect their attitudes have on others. He’s a bit like a dangerous driver who causes one collision after another among other motorists who are forced to try to compensate for his behaviour.
That was this writer’s reaction to just one question, from one questioner. From that angle, the 95-minute show seemed very long indeed.
Let’s rewind to the beginning. David Cameron was first up, having lost the coin-toss to Ed Miliband, who put his opponent in to face Jeremy Paxman’s grilling first. How did he do?
He admitted he couldn’t do a zero-hours job (despite having forced at least 700,000 others into them); he was inaccurate about his government’s record on getting the national debt and deficit down; he lied about Labour’s fiscal plans; he admitted he had failed to bring immigration down. His promise not to raise VAT was unconvincing. He lied about the speed of the UK’s economic growth – we’re not the fastest-growing western economy but are somewhere around seventh.
He absolutely refused to give any hint about where the Conservatives’ planned £12 billion cut in the benefits budget would fall. Anyone on benefits – in-work, out-of-work, pensioners; there are an awful lot of us – should therefore be very afraid of what will happen if he returns to government in May.
He repeatedly claimed the economy was “close to the brink” when he came to office in 2010. What does that mean? Close to the brink of what? Bankruptcy? Ridiculous – the UK can’t go bankrupt while it has a sovereign currency (or at least, not as easily as Cameron seemed to be saying). He lied that he had cut the deficit by half – in numerical terms, his government has reduced it by a third, but it is rising again now.
One comment that stood out: “We still don’t have one company [italics mine] that owns all the government’s buildings.” Why do government buildings need to be owned by a private, profit-making firm? Aren’t they public buildings? Can’t the government manage those buildings itself – in the name of the British people who own them? It was a sign of his neoliberal sensibilities – he wants to take anything owned by the state, sell it to the corporations, and pocket the proceeds so the public won’t even get any benefit from the sale.
He said it was important that local councils have resources. What a disingenuous statement – his government has been cutting funding for local government.
He implied that another government might join the Euro. Why did he do this? Nobody has even mentioned it.
On the privatisation of the NHS, he again brought up his son Ivan as a human shield, deflecting an honest question that was prompted by concern with his own anecdotal recollections about a service that no longer exists because he ended it. It was up to audience members to point out that he broke his promise not to have another NHS reorganisation, and he broke his manifesto promise not to force the closure of hospital Accident and Emergency departments. He said spending on the NHS had increased but omitted the fact that the profiteers he invited into the service are eating those increases and leaving nothing for the provision of care. And he said there were more doctors now – all of whom would have begun their training under the last Labour government and were nothing to do with him.
It was a miserable performance by a miserable excuse for a prime minister.
Ed Miliband’s turn began with some truly bizarre choices of questions from audience members. The challenger for the country’s top job was asked, “Why are you so gloomy?” He was asked if he thought his brother David, who lost to Ed in a Labour leadership election, would have done a better job as Opposition leader. “Are you going to break your promises?” “Why aren’t you steaming ahead in the polls?” It’s hard to understand how he could answer a question like that – so he did well even to try.
In fact, he did extremely well, considering the quality of the questioning. Asked why Labour demonises high-rate taxpayers (another curiosity – who says Labour does this, apart from high-rate taxpayers?) he said Labour is not against wealth-creation. He thinks the best way for the UK to succeed is not just for people at the top to have more, but for everybody to succeed. Good answer. He revisited this later, when he asked, “Is our country going to just work for the richest and most powerful, or is everyone going to get a fair shot?”
Asked about Labour’s deficit reduction plans, he pointed out the elephant in the room that David Cameron avoids mentioning: “Living standards have fallen so tax revenue has fallen.” Labour’s plan is to improve living standards and increase the amount of tax revenue coming in, by increasing the number of people able to pay it.
On the David Miliband question, he admitted that New Labour had made mistakes and it was time to move on. “New Labour was too relaxed on inequality.” He mentioned the Iraq War, and he admitted that New Labour grossly underestimated the numbers of immigrants likely to arrive here after the eastern European countries joined the EU. This is important, because it neutralises claims made by Labour’s detractors that the party hasn’t learned the important lessons of its time in office; clearly, he was saying, he has. He returned to foreign affairs later, under grilling from Jeremy Paxman, when he flagged up his response to the government’s call for British armed forces to go to Syria. He said the current situation in that country remains terrible, but it would have been wrong for the UK to have become part of it.
Asked if he was another politician who was going to break his promises, Miliband offered a firm “No.” He said he was going to follow through on his promises because he wanted to rebuild trust in politics and politicians. “I want to under-promise and over-deliver”.
These questions left Jeremy Paxman with very little to ask. He revisited immigration, and asked what else Labour got wrong when it was in office – also covered in the audience’s questions. He tried to trap Miliband with questions about Labour’s economic forecasts about Coalition policy being wrong (they were based on information from the Office for Budget Responsibility – and the claim that wages have fallen is accurate), and about his time as energy minister (“I never said raising energy bills would combat climate change. You can’t use climate change to rip off the consumer”).
The challenge on the Mansion Tax was extremely ill-thought-out. Paxman claimed that Jim Murphy had said it was a way of taking money from the southeast of England and using it to subsidise Scotland. Miliband pointed out that this is what taxation is all about; tax money is used to support government policies throughout the whole of the UK. In fact, it is worrying that this was even mentioned as it suggests that people are starting to forget what taxation is about; the redistribution of some of the nation’s wealth into services for everybody.
Finally, Paxman came to the questions he had to ask, because they are the basis of the Tory election campaign: The claims that Miliband is a poor leader. Is he in a bargaining game with Alex Salmond over a deal with the SNP? No. “People look at you and say, what a shame he’s not his brother.” (This one raised a groan from the audience, who were firmly on Miliband’s side by now, having clearly decided that the questions put to him were not fair). Miliband shrugged. “Who cares? I’ve been underestimated at every turn.”
“People think you’re not tough enough.” This one provoked the iconic moment of the evening, that will be recalled by everyone who saw it – even Miliband’s detractors.
“Am I tough enough?” he echoed. “Hell yes, I’m tough enough!”
And then it was all over, bar the shouting from the political commentators in the press and on the social media.
A Guardian/ICM poll suggested Cameron had won the confrontation, by a margin of 54 per cent of respondents to 46 per cent for Miliband. YouGov had the difference much narrower, at 51 per cent against 49 per cent. Labour commentators said this was a great result for their party, as Miliband had been trailing much further behind Cameron in the run-up to the show.
On Twitter, the response went the other way entirely, with a hands-down win for Miliband. Paxman and co-host Kay Burley of Sky News came under fire for apparent favouritism towards David Cameron (both are known to have Conservative leanings).
Most damning, for Cameron is the simple fact that he refused to debate Miliband face-to-face. They were in the same TV studio, at the same time, and Cameron didn’t have the courage to do it.
The controversial Scots comedian Frankie Boyle was interviewed last year at the Guardian’s International Television Festival last year by Pointless’s Richard Osman. The interview was a review of the state of television. And Boyle made it very clear that he though British television was being held back by the desire of TV commissioning editors to remain safe. Boyle made it very clear that class attitudes were very definitely a part of this.
The article is quite lengthy, and all of it is worth reading – but you should visit Beastrabban\’s Weblog to do so. The part to which the headline refers runs as follows:
Boyle gave the murderous campaign of Cameron against the disabled. He said outright that Cameron had killed at least 2,200 people ‘bottom line’ through Atos and the fit for work test. But he was never challenged. [Richard] Osman raised the topic of the Channel 4 conspiracy drama, Utopia, as an example of television tackling difficult topics. Boyle stated in his usual forthright terms that the show was rubbish. It was based very much on the type of comics produced by Alan Moore and his ilk. However, Channel 4 had taken all the good material out of it. If they were really determined to produce quality television, they’d hire Alan Moore and co. Instead Channel 4 produced endless programmes genuinely exploiting deformity and sneering at the working class, explicitly mentioning Benefits Street.
Here’s the YouTube recording of the interview. Warning: Boyle’s language is at times very coarse, and the jokes about Katie Price and Rebecca Adlington may be offensive.
David Cameron is facing one of the biggest challenges of his political career – now that the TV companies have offered to include the Green Party (and others) in the televised election debates, is he man enough to take part?
Cameron scampered off like a startled rabbit when he realised he could use the Green Party’s exclusion as a reason not to participate, but now broadcasters have put forward new proposals which include the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
The BBC and ITV would stage debates involving the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, SNP and Plaid, while Sky and Channel 4 will go ahead with their plan to host a head-to-head between Cameron and Ed Miliband – if Cameron has the guts for it.
However, he still has two possible escape routes – the Democrat Unionist Party will be writing to the BBC and other broadcasters to ask why it is not being included when it has more seats than the three parties that have now been included. Will he demand its inclusion as well?
And Cameron has said he is not happy with the dates being offered for the debates – April 2, 16 and 30 – saying they should take place before the official, ‘short’, campaign begins.
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