The Tory Brexit policy, explained by cartoonist Dave Brown.
Tories really love stabbing each other in the back when things start going wrong, don’t they?
That most staunch media supporter of the Conservative Party, the Daily Telegraph, has turned against Theresa May.
This is an opinion-forming media organ, so it is likely that many more will turn against her over the coming days.
Will she face it down? Mrs May has been very lucky so far, in that the premiership is now a poisoned chalice, courtesy of David Cameron and his mind-bogglingly boneheaded European Union membership referendum.
Nobody wants to take over because they’ll then be the one carrying the can for a policy that will cause economic ruin for the United Kingdom. Every Tory in Parliament is leaving Mrs May in place to take the blame.
Cameron himself is probably hoping she will. Jeremy Paxman outed him as the worst prime minister since Lord North (who?) on BBC comedy panel show Room 101, and the referendum – and Cameron’s subsequent sharp departure – was a big part of his reasoning.
Whatever happens, those of us who oppose her – and Tory politics in general – could be in for an entertaining few weeks.
When Theresa May took control of the country in 2016, many didn’t expect her to last long. Brexit divisions would bring her down within six months, senior officials predicted. Somehow, though, Mrs May defied them. Each time the Government teeters on the brink of disaster, it pulls back. Mrs May, for all her flaws, has a mysterious ability to look stable for long periods. But it’s a mirage.
The reality is that the Prime Minister is now a Wizard of Oz figure. Every now and then, the curtain falls away and the appalling reality becomes apparent. Then, the Tories close ranks.
“Pay no attention to that person behind the curtain!” they cry. And we all go back to normal. Well, I’m afraid that things aren’t normal, not by a long shot.
Lola Olufemi: When the Daily Telegraph published its retraction, she tweeted: “Small victories, hopefully I can get on with my job now.”
You couldn’t make it up – unless you worked for a right-wing rag like the Daily Heil or the Torygraph. And from now on, even if reporters at those organs try, they won’t be believed.
The Daily Mail blotted its own copy(book) with an article on “Our Remainer Universities”. Building on the revelation that Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris had written to universities, requesting details of courses and lecturers dealing with the European Union and Brexit, the <ahem> paper asked readers to send in their own stories.
Apparently nobody in the editorial team stopped to consider the kind of responses they would get from respondents who are – not to put too fine a point on it – educated.
Nor did they expect the floodgates to open in quite the way they did. This Site has already published one professor’s response. Here are a few more, from a range of sources:
For those who cannot read images, Steve Peers wrote: “Dear Witchfinder General,
“I am writing to turn myself in as what your paper would consider a biased professor.
“I discuss the details of refugee law with my students, whereas your paper referred to the ‘problem’ of Jewish refugees ‘pouring into the country’ and depicted recent asylum seekers as rats.
“I ask students to look at EU and human rights laws on LGBT equality, whereas your paper referred to ‘abortion hope’ after a ‘gay gene’ was found.
“I discuss the risk that far right extremism poses to human rights, whereas your paper cheered ‘hurrah to the blackshirts’; and I outline the importance of the rule of law, whereas your paper shrieks that judges it disagrees with are ‘enemies of the people’.
“Despite all this, I can only dream of receiving the huge sums from the EU that your editor Paul Dacre has obtained.
“I can only salute your paper’s commitment to the truth, in spite of its many losses and settlements in libel cases and the frequent readers’ complaints it provokes.
“Professor of Law, University of Essex.”
“I attend updog university, and we are being taught anti Brexit propaganda by our left wing professors. We are now made to gather in the study hall once a week and salute an EU flag whilst the professor slowly eats a croissant.
“Another lesson that is now mandatory is ‘brexit may not have been a good idea and blind patriotism is a foolish and extremely dangerous answer’. I think this is disgusting. If you keep saying it will be ok, it will be ok. We all know this. I once had a rabbit that got smashed to bits by a tractor and I said it would be ok and a few days later my dad got me a new rabbit.
“Please help me, there is no longer any room for bigots like myself at places of education and thought.
“I thought you might be interested in the behaviour of one of our lecturers. In a 2nd year module I take (‘Cultural Maxism and Masculinities’ – 15 credits) our lecturer declared that they were committed to ‘free speech’, but on condition that the speech was in a language other than English. My mate was determined to give an opinion on why Brexit was good, but was forced to stand at the front of the class explaining it in French, a language he doesn’t really speak.
“I wish to inform you that I have indeed experienced bias around Brexit at the University of Leeds.
“Only yesterday, I had a lecturer of International Communication show us a study which supposedly demonstrated that the wider international community believe that Brexit is a bad idea. I soon put him straight by showing him my curved banana and asking him whether or not this was the kind of thing that should be influenced by bureaucrats in Brussels.
“Needless to say, the spineless lefty had no response to my compelling argument.
“It is totally scandalous that the lecturers there have based their opinions about Brexit on both fact and quantifiable research that has been critically assessed and approved of by other members of the academic community.
“I can only pray that my lecturers stop using verifiably true information to influence the young minds that they are placed in charge of, and instead use publications such as yours to show students that Brexit will not only bring prosperity to our nation, but will also rid our proud island of the scourge of immigrants, with their unpronounceable names and funny accents.
“I hope this anecdote will be useful to you and your fine fact reporting establishment.
And from Tim Brudenell: “Dear Sir/Madam, but hopefully Sir
“There I was performing my morning salute to the national anthem in my commemorative Princess Diana knitwear when my History lecturer kegged me and forced me to eat a copy of Das Capital.
“I was so distressed by this event I had to cancel my erotic pottery class.
Not to be outdone, the Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that Cambridge University Student Union women’s officer Lola Olufemi had forced the university to stop discussing white authors in order to “decolonise” its curriculum.
Of course the letter signed by Ms Olufemi and more than 100 students, on which the article was based, did not call for the exclusion of white men from reading lists and Cambridge University has not dropped any authors from its courses.
Nevertheless, the Mail (again) followed up the story with a a profile of Ms Olufemi headlined ‘Feminist killjoy* behind the campaign (*It’s what she calls herself)’.
"Remember that black student yesterday, the one on the front cover, who was attacking white authors? Yeah, we made that up. Sorry." pic.twitter.com/eaAx4l8HkT
The apology that appeared in the Torygraph‘s ‘Corrections and clarifications’ the following day stated: “An Oct 25 article incorrectly stated that under proposals by academic staff in response to an open letter from students on “decolonising” its English Faculty, Cambridge University will be forced to replace white authors with black writers. The proposals were in ract recommendations. Neither they nor the open letter called for the University to replace white authors with black ones and there are no plans to do so.”
These are just the latest blunders by our supposedly impartial mainstream media – which still, improbably, expect us to believe they are more reliable than online news sites.
Now, it seems people have decided enough is enough – and have started lampooning mainstream news stories as they come out.
For example, try this retooling of the story that the man who (allegedly) shot John F Kennedy – Lee Harvey Oswald – met representatives of the KGB before setting out to kill the then-president. It has been re-written to present a story that might be considered more in line with Heil readers’ leanings (and the version I’m using has been edited by an acquaintance to add some salient facts):
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We already know that the civil servant who wrote the controversial ‘Memogate’ memo believed that it was accurate. Now the MP who leaked it has said the same.
The only people who have cast any doubt on the document are those who have an interest in doing so.
If the civil servant had not declared his belief that the information he had written was factually accurate – by which, let’s by clear, he meant it was what he had been told by the French consul-general – then This Writer would be more willing to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt.
The civil servant did express concerns that the consul-general had misheard the information he had imparted – but, looking at the actual content of that information, it is hard to find any way this could be true. There is no language barrier between three people who are all perfectly fluent in English, for example.
So this issue still comes down to whether you believe a civil servant with an impeccable record for honesty, absolutely no reason to fabricate any information, and no reason to believe he could get away with any such fabrication at the time he communicated the message he did, or three people who were directly involved in what appears to be a politically incendiary conversation, all of whom would have had very strong reasons for being conservative with the truth, if that conversation really did take place as recorded.
You be the judge.
Alistair Carmichael has told a special court he leaked a confidential memo that claimed Nicola Sturgeon secretly wanted a Tory general election victory because he believed it was true.
The former Scotland secretary told an election court in Edinburgh he believed the so-called Frenchgate memo was “politically explosive”, because it confirmed that the first minister wanted David Cameron to win in the belief it would further her quest for Scottish independence.
Carmichael denied he had intended to smear Sturgeon when he authorised his special adviser Euan Roddin to leak the memo. He said that until she forcefully denied it was accurate within minutes of the Daily Telegraph publishing it, he felt it revealed facts that were of critical public importance.
“A smear is where you say something about somebody else, an opinion which is untrue and which you know to be untrue,” he said. The memo “was saying something about Scottish nationalists that I believed to be true”.
The case centres on Carmichael’s decision in March to allow Roddin to leak a memo that allegedly summarised Sturgeon’s comments to the French ambassador Sylvie Bermann. The first minister allegedly said she did not believe Ed Miliband, then the Labour leader, was prime ministerial material, and that she would prefer to see the Tories win.
Carmichael said he trusted the honesty of the Scotland Office civil servant who had drawn up the memo, and the account Pierre Alain Coffinier, the French diplomat who briefed the civil servant, gave about the ambassador’s meeting with the first minister.
Painful though it is to agree with the Torygraph, the paper is absolutely right to go for Kathryn Hudson’s jugular in its editorial about her ruling on the Rifkind/Straw cases.
It seems that, rather than investigating MPs and uncovering wrongdoing, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is more interested in defending them against any investigation or criticism.
Where the Telegraph editorial questions whether she is fit to hold her post, This Writer would question whether that post should be dissolved altogether and potential wrongdoing by MPs referred to the police – preferably to be investigated by a force not directly connected to the Member in question or Parliament itself.
In her ruling, Kathryn Hudson, criticised the journalists who broke the story, commenting: “The distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage.
“If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals.”
But the Telegraph retorted with its own scathing editorial this week, saying the “sorry tale” of both ex-MPs proved “beyond doubt” that those in the Commons could not be trusted to regulate themselves over lobbying.
“Ms Hudson’s credulity towards MPs raises questions about whether she is fit to hold her post,” leader writers wrote, “yet her performance is laudable in comparison with the egregious work of the Standards Committee.
“Far from accepting any error by Sir Malcolm or Mr Straw, or any flaw in the rules they so nimbly stepped around, the committee suggests that the failing here lies with the public for not properly “understanding” the role of MPs.
It continued, saying: “That is bad enough. Worse are the committee’s words on the press. It is only because of investigative journalism that the conduct of Sir Malcolm and Mr Straw became known to the voters they were supposed to serve.
“Yet the committee’s report amounts to a warning to journalists not to carry out such investigations in future, promising to ‘consider further the role of the press in furthering…understanding and detecting wrongdoing’.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Not the only Tory suspected of wrong-doing.
Parliament’s standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, has let former MPs Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw off the hook after they were accused of corruption – but is this because they only offered to break the rules, rather than actually breaking them?
Rifkind and Straw were filmed secretly by Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary programme, speaking with an undercover reporter posing as a representative of a fake Hong Kong firm, ‘PMR’.
This representative asked Sir Malcolm if he would be able to provide advance information on HS3 – the mooted high-speed train route linking the northeast of England with the northwest.
He was recorded saying: “I could write to a minister… And I wouldn’t name who was asking… But I would say I’ve been asked to establish what your thinking is on X, Y, Z. Can you tell me what that is?”
Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said on the programme: “It’s absolutely clear in the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament that they have to be open and frank in all communications and yet he was saying on that clip that he would be able to write to ministers, and he wouldn’t have to say who exactly he was representing.
“Well that would be a clear breach of the Code of Conduct and an example of, here, an experienced Member of Parliament rather using their privileged position as a public servant in trying to get access to information which would benefit individuals and this company in a way that I think the public would find totally unacceptable.”
But of course, he didn’t actually do it, because PMR was a fictitious company.
Jack Straw was filmed telling an undercover reporter how he managed to get Ukrainian law changed in order to allow another company to run its business more easily there – a perfectly legal and reasonable activity, according to Dispatches.
But then he said that EU regulations had been hampering the business so he “got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels” and got the regulations changed. He said: “The best way of doing things is under the radar.”
Sir Alistair Graham pointed out, on the programme: “That’s worrying because that’s saying ‘I can do these things without transparency’ – without the
openness and frankness that the MPs’ Code of Conduct is expecting is the normal behaviour from Members of Parliament.”
But, again, he didn’t actually do anything “under the radar” because PMR was a fictitious company.
So Ms Hudson cleared both former MPs of any wrong-doing – and gave both Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph (with whom the programme had run its investigation as a joint affair) a lashing.
“If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House.”
This seems unreasonable as Dispatches actually filmed both these people making their claims, and measured them against the words of Sir Alistair Graham – and there was plenty of qualification in the voice-over, explaining what was permitted by the rules and what was not.
What was she really saying? That Rifkind and Straw had to carry out their suggestions before they could be accused of anything? Wouldn’t that be leaving things a little late? Fixing the barn door after the horse has bolted, to quote a well-known phrase?
Remember, this is the standards commissioner who was reluctant to examine the case of George Osborne, who paid mortgage interest on his paddock with taxpayers’ money before selling it off with a neighbouring farmhouse for around £1 million and pocketing the cash.
She refused to look into it, saying she had already investigated the case – but an examination of her report revealed no mention of the million-pound paddock at all.
Prime Minister David Cameron was said to have welcomed the commissioner’s whitewash, in a BBC report.
But Channel 4 is standing by its story and has asked broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to investigate the programme. Channel 4 says the programme raised legitimate questions and, in all honesty, this is true.
Let’s hope the result of this investigation takes Ms Hudson down a peg or two. She is long overdue for it.
Nicola Sturgeon has been crowing after the Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld her complaint about the ‘Memogate’ story that caused such a stir for the Daily Telegraph in April.
Ipso has ruled that the story – based on a memo that was leaked, we later learned, on the orders of the Coalition’s then-Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael – was “significantly misleading” because “the newspaper had failed to make clear that it did not know whether the account the memorandum presented was true”. It stops short of any suggestion that the story was false.
This means we still do not know whether the account in the memo was true.
A Cabinet Office investigation revealed that the civil servant who wrote the memo had a spotless record of accuracy and believed that it was accurate because it set down what he was told, faithfully.
But the SNP distortion machine has rolled into action to claim that Ipso’s ruling supports Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that the memo – and the story – were not true. This is a claim that we cannot accept on trust because, as one of the people involved, she has something to gain by making it.
In fact, none of the statements made by people who took part in the conversations mentioned in the memo may be taken at face value. The only person whose account may be considered impartial is the civil servant who wrote the memo – but everyone seems very keen to dismiss what he said.
According to The Guardian, Sturgeon said: “Subsequent events have proven conclusively that the story was entirely untrue, and today’s ruling simply underlines that.” This is a lie. They did not; it does not.
“They [the press] have a duty to ensure, as far as possible, that the stories they present to readers are fair, balanced and – above all – accurate. The Daily Telegraph, in failing to carry out the most elementary of journalistic checks and balances, failed in this case to meet that duty.”
Which checks and balances would these be, Nicola? Do you mean the Telegraph reporters didn’t ask you if the memo was accurate? Now, why do you think that would be? Could it be because the memo said you secretly wanted David Cameron to be the next Prime Minister, while open claiming you wanted Miliband – suggesting you were lying to the public? You’re too intelligent not to understand that this means anything you said about it would be suspicious.
Why are you insulting the public’s intelligence by claiming otherwise?
Double standards from the press. Shocking? Well, not really. Just annoying.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Information Commissioner has ordered the government to publish, in full, a government report into the impact of fracking on house prices.
The decision came after campaigners complained that the word “redacted” appeared 63 times in the 13-page document.
That’s all very well, and good on the Torygraph for publishing it.
But the same paper had an opportunity to report on the Information Commissioner’s decision to order the Department for Work and Pensions to publish the number of people who have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance, after he granted my appeal on April 30 – and didn’t.
We know for a fact that the paper had the opportunity to do so, because I sent a press release to all of the national dailies. Only the Mirror picked up on it.
It seems the Torygraph is happy for evidence to be hidden when it is convenient – and house prices (it is clear) are more important to its editors than the deaths of a few thousand sick and disabled people.
A secret Government report into the impact of fracking on house prices and rural communities must be published in the public interest, the Information Commissioner has ruled.
Ministers last year published a heavily redacted version of the report, commissioned by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in response to a request from campaigners.
The word ‘redacted’ appeared 63 times in the 13-page document, which was entitled “shale gas: rural economy impacts”.
Among the deleted parts of the report were several sections on the “impact on housing demand and property prices”, fuelling fears that ministers who are in favour of fracking were hiding evidence about its drawbacks.
Following an appeal by campaigners the Information Commissioner on Thursday ordered the Government to publish the report in full, saying there was “a strong public interest” in the Government’s policy on fracking and research on it.
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.
Iceland’s Supreme Court have sentenced four bank bosses from Kaupthing bank to serve jail time, according to yournewswire.com.
Bankers Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of the board, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, the former chief executive, Magnus Gudmundsson, the former chief executive of the Luxembourg branch and Olafur Olafsson, one of the majority owners, were sentenced to jail time of between four and five and a half years each.
The court found that they hid the fact that Qatari investor Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Thani bought a stake in Kaupthing, using money borrowed illegally from the bank itself.
Al-Thani’s purchase, a 5.1 per cent share, was announced only a few weeks before the bank collapsed. It was seen as a confidence boost for the bank while rumours circulated that it was in trouble.
These are the heaviest sentences for financial fraud in Iceland’s history. The four will have to pay their own legal costs for the case, which amount to 82 million kronur or approximately 670 thousand US dollars.
Meanwhile, in the UK – where bank bonus culture continues unabated – the former boss of a huge multinational bank (HSBC) that illegally helped more than 7,000 customers to avoid paying their taxes appears to be under the protection of the country’s prime minister – whose own family (as has been well-established) made its money from advising people on how to avoid paying taxes.
HM Revenue and Customs has identified 1,100 UK citizens who could be prosecuted for avoiding tax – only one person has faced such prosecution.
One of the UK’s most respected newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, has been avoiding the story (allegedly) because it wants to protect a lucrative advertising contract with HSBC.
Our government of Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat MPs is – as far as anybody can see – protecting the people who caused the financial crash of 2007 onwards, along with those who – by withholding the tax money they owe the UK Treasury – have forced unnecessary austerity onto the poorest people in the country.
It is estimated that thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of people have died because of benefit cuts and sanctions that have been administered either by fraud or error.
Yet the Conservative Party is still expected to return nearly 300 members to Parliament on May 8.
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