Tag Archives: leadership

PMQs: Starmer misses Johnson’s gaping-open goal, allowing the Tory to make a fool of him

Johnson and Starmer: we have a PM for whom the initials more appropriately refer to him as a Performing Monkey, but the ‘forensic’ former Attorney General is incapable of beating him, despite his incompetence.

Keir Starmer’s protestations of support for Tory government anti-Covid policies came back to bite him on the arse in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Two weeks after supporting the government in its decision to close pubs at 10pm, Starmer u-turned, demanding an explanation of the science behind it. He gave Johnson a perfect opportunity to land a knockout blow – and launch a new anti-Labour soundbite:

I was dismayed:

Sadly, that was the way of it for the whole of this week’s PMQs – as I had feared at the outset:

Look at the rest of my commentary on the confrontation:

He didn’t. But Johnson picked up on that failure and it led to the knockout later on.

As I write this, Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Politics Live is suggesting to Labour’s Stephen Doughty that Starmer wrote Johnson “a blank cheque” by offering his support “whatever restrictions are in place”.

That failure – that lack of closure – seems to have given Johnson the confidence to launch his own attack.

I could have done better:

Starmer is under attack at the moment, for his failures to lead an effective Opposition against the Johnson government.

On Twitter, the general public are at each other’s throats with many attacking him under the #StarmerOut hashtag, while others have tried to subvert that with an opposing line, #StarmerOutstanding.

In the real world, the union Unite has withdrawn 10 per cent of its funding because Starmer “isn’t listening” on matters of major importance (I’ll make more of this in a separate article).

If he can’t respond to these criticisms – as he failed to protect himself from Johnson soundbiting him into shreds – then he must seriously reconsider his position.

He is leading Labour into irrelevance.

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#ANewSlogan for #Labour and #KeirStarmer – but it’s the same old #NewLabour underneath

Empty: Keir Starmer’s slogans are as empty as the promises in the 10 pledges he made when he was trying to be elected Labour leader (he has broken nine of them already).

Keir Starmer isn’t fooling anyone with his new empty slogan.

On the eve of Labour Connected – the party’s virtual conference, he’s replacing the previous empty slogan, “Under New Management” with one making the unlikely claim that he and his party are “A New Leadership”.

The problem is, neither Keir Starmer nor Labour under him have provided any leadership at all.

What are his achievements to date? Hmm…

Approving Boris Johnson’s disastrous Covid-19 strategy.

Agreeing with Boris Johnson that schools should open in September.

Paying off a gang of media-savvy ex-Labour apparatchiks before they could take the party into a court case that Labour was expected to win.

If that is leadership then Boris Johnson is the world’s greatest statesman (ha ha)!

Iain Watson of the BBC reckons the slogan has a lot of work to do:

First, it is designed to contrast favourably with Boris Johnson’s leadership – and build on Sir Keir’s sustained attempt to portray the current government as lacking competence.

Second, it dovetails with Labour’s plan to “introduce” Sir Keir to the country.

Third, it will be deployed to try to eliminate a negative.

While he may not have been fully introduced to the electorate, the good news for Sir Keir Starmer is that his personal ratings are positive.

The bad news for Starmer is that while he has made a relatively positive impression since becoming Labour leader in March, the party has been lagging behind the Conservatives in most polls.

The aim now is to bring the party’s standing closer to Starmer’s.

That’s a lot of work for a three-word falsehood to do.

If you visit the BBC story, you’ll see that among the illustrations is one of Tony Blair unveiling his slogan, “New Labour, New Britain” back in 1994.

They were empty words. New Labour, we soon discovered, was just a continuation of old Tory neoliberalism. Margaret Thatcher later described it as her greatest achievement.

I mention this because there seems to be a clear progression in Starmer’s slogans.

Could it be that he is marching with ponderous predictability, from “Under New Management”, through “A New Leadership”…

… back to “New Labour”?

Source: Labour Party: Starmer aims to build trust with ‘new leadership’ slogan – BBC News

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‘Desperate’? Boris Johnson is clutching at straws as his party loses faith

Impotent rage: Boris Johnson is losing his grip on his party, as his incompetence as a leader becomes increasingly apparent.

Remember the old adage that repeating an action and expecting a different result is a sign of madness? It seems Boris Johnson hasn’t.

But then we already knew his grip on reality is tenuous at best.

The Observer is reporting that he is furious at the failure of his attempt to smear Labour leader Keir Starmer by connecting him with the IRA.

But rather than finding an alternative, he has instead reprimanded his advisers for leaving him under-prepared – and demanded more attack lines on Starmer, doubling down on criticism of his legal record.

It hasn’t worked; it won’t work.

Even where Starmer may be criticised, he knows those weaknesses and will have answers.

And of course Johnson will be laying himself open to analysis of his own past career – which consists of multiple claims of dishonesty and at least one high-profile sacking.

That won’t play well when he lays himself open to an airing of his faults at PMQs.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in the Conservative Party will be doing what they always do when they see a leader sinking; they’re sharpening their knives. Here’s The Observer:

There is evidence that the wider Tory party is losing faith in Johnson’s ability to lead them against Starmer – and signs that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has become the new favourite of the Conservative grassroots.

According to the latest survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome, the website for party activists, Johnson is now in the bottom third of cabinet ministers in the satisfaction ratings – having been the runaway leader nine months ago.

Johnson has slumped to 19th place, below Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, with a rating of plus 24.6%. Sunak meanwhile is out in front on plus 82.5%.

The verdict among the Twitterati is that Johnson is self-destructing:

You get the idea.

Who said Johnson would be gone by Christmas?

It seems likely he might be out a lot sooner.

Source: Desperate Boris Johnson to step up personal attacks on Keir Starmer | Politics | The Guardian

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Johnson in leadership crisis over ‘back to work’ demand*

UPDATE – 4.30pm, August 29: Furious Tory backbenchers are demanding an explanation from Boris Johnson after an opinion poll showed he has squandered his thumping great lead over the Labour Party.

Charles Walker, vice-chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said his colleagues were concerned that a series of u-turns over Covid-19 had undermined the party’s credibility to govern. This Site has already reported that this has been attributed to a desire not to be outflanked by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.

The fiasco over ‘A’ level exams and GCSEs, together with policy reversals – most recently on the wearing of face masks in schools – have created unrest that Walker said he will have to report to Johnson when MPs return to Parliament on Tuesday (those who do – many are likely to stay away due to social distancing).

Of course the poll lead the Tories enjoyed at the end of March, when with the help of misleading news media they were widely held to be handling Covid-19 well – and Labour was awaiting the announcement of its new leader, should not have been taken as an indication of the kind of lead the Tories could hope to maintain.

But new Labour leader Keir Starmer has failed to make a good impression on the general public with a series of questionable decisions, so the outlier Opinium poll showing his party neck-and-neck with the Tories is a major wake-up call for Johnson and his cronies.

The drama is related to the revelation that Boris Johnson could be facing a challenge to his continuation as prime minister – over his demand that we should all stop working from home and risk Covid-19 infection by going back to work.

It’s an odd demand to make as we come to a time of year when coronavirus infections normally increase – and indeed we are seeing a rise in the Covid-19 infection rate.

Doubly so, considering the fact that a majority of both employees and employers seem to be opposed to it.

iNews has reported that a month after Johnson ditched his advice that people should work from home in favour of them returning to the workplace, his demand has fallen on deaf ears. Town centres remain empty.

Ministers are trying to explain away the sluggish response by pointing to the fact that August is the height of the holiday season (even though, with Covid restrictions, there’s practically nowhere to go).

But there appears to be a growing wave of opinion that Johnson has failed to inspire the nation and should be replaced.

(To be continued…)

* This story is ongoing and will be updated as new developments come to This Site.

Source: Ministers may be wasting their breath with calls for people to go back to work

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Here’s why the witch-hunters are wrong about Chris Williamson

Outdoor oratory: Chris Williamson speaking to the crowd in Brighton on August 8.

You’ll be aware that MP Chris Williamson, suspended from Labour on a trumped-up anti-Semitism charge, had to make a speech in the open air after Brighton venues were bullied out of hosting him, apparently by organisations claiming to represent Jewish people.

It seems representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council rushed to Brighton to protest against his appearance on Thursday evening. We know that protesters were there, taking photographs of Mr Williamson’s supporters without permission (and we should certainly ask who these photographers were and what they intended to do with these images).

Today, I have seen two pieces on Facebook that suggest the hysteria whipped up around this meeting was not only utterly unwarranted but completely unfair.

Consider this post by Robert Cohen:

“With the President of the Board of Deputies and the CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council rushing down to Brighton last night to stop a speech by Chris Williamson MP, you’d think Williamson was about to call for destroying Jewish homes, or stealing Jewish land or denying Jewish human rights, or maiming Jewish protestors. Or perhaps he was about to proudly reveal he’d been a former guard at a concentration camp in Poland several years before he was actually born. But no, he made a speech about fighting racism and capitalism.‬

‪”The antisemitism case against Williamson is thin and flimsy at best. Personally, I don’t buy it. Unless “Jew baiting” now means not agreeing with the BoD, which in turn is the ‘new antisemitism’.‬

‪”The British Quakers must have been under huge pressure to cancel the Chris Williamson meeting on their premises. Fear of violence must have been a big factor too with calls for protestors to descend on the seaside town. I’m not going to criticise the Quakers as they’ve stood firm against the Board many times before (including on my behalf).‬

‪”As usual, the Board and JLC gets worked up about the wrong threats to Jewish interests. When will our Jewish leaders understand what’s really eating away at our Jewish safety and Jewish integrity? It’s taking place on the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem everyday. ‬

‪”Stand with the oppressed, never the oppressor (no matter who they are). Shabbat Shalom.‬”

What did he say? That the BoD and the JLC rushed to Brighton to stop an MP from giving a speech that denounced racism?

That seems completely arse-backward to This Writer.

If only we could see the speech and judge for ourselves, eh?

Here it is.

Who are the racists here – Chris Williamson and the crowd who came to hear him talk about challenging racism? Or the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and their intimidating adherents?

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Latest ‘anti-Semitism’ attack on Labour reveals the cruel intention behind it

Injustice: How many innocent Labour Party members have suffered as a result of false accusations?

Labour has been “letting off” party members accused of anti-Semitism, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews – but they are deliberately misinterpreting party policy.

Still, what can we expect from an unelected self-interest group?

The claim is that Labour’s own disciplinary process shows that members can avoid punishment – by apologising and agreeing to take part in education to show why their actions were wrong.

And why shouldn’t they be excused from suspension or expulsion, if they know they have done wrong, have accepted it, and are willing to learn, so they don’t do it again, even inadvertently.

The Board of Deputies, it seems, wants all offenders to be driven out of the Labour Party, no matter whether they have accepted and apologised for wrong-doing or not. That is unreasonable.

Still, what can we expect from a predominantly right-wing – Tory-dominated – group? It seems to me that this demand springs from a desire to weaken the Labour Party, rather than any wish for justice.

And in any case, there is plenty of opportunity for injustice in Labour’s system as it is.

I was accused of anti-Semitic behaviour on several occasions, based on false allegations by that fake charity, the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

One or several of its members had concocted a press release in which they mangled my words in a bid to claim hatred of Jewish people where there was none.

Accused – and summarily suspended – by Labour, I expected a proper investigation into the truth or falsehood of the allegations against me. I received none.

The party’s attitude was that the accusation against me was proof of my guilt. After I proved that my actions were not anti-Semitic by any accepted definition of the term, the party changed its tune to claim that it did not matter, because my words had caused upset, and that was enough.

(It isn’t enough. And, as the party could not produce anybody who claimed to have suffered such upset, no such person legally exists.)

I was initially offered reinstatement, if I apologised and accepted education on anti-Semitism – in line with the policy against which the Board of Deputies is now protesting.

I refused it because I had done nothing wrong and Labour’s investigation had been a farce.

But because the party’s disputes team had already made up their collective mind that I was guilty, I was subjected to another farce when my case was heard by the National Constitutional Committee.

That was the day it earned its derogatory nickname of “National Kangaroo Court”. It is clear that nobody who enters such a hearing may expect anything even approximating justice.

In fact, the entire procedure shames the Labour Party to the deepest level, and all those who defend it – from the lowest party official posting out suspension notices to the NEC, NCC and the general secretary.

All these people have been complicit in huge harm to the livelihoods and reputations of those whose names their decisions have besmirched.

In the light of these facts, Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl’s claim that “Labour’s disciplinary processes still seem to be more geared towards protecting antisemites than protecting Jews” is silly childishness.

The process is not a “‘get out of jail free’ card for racists,” as she claims. It is a mechanism to persecute the innocent.

So, by rights, I should be in favour of the now-much-touted demand that Labour turn over its disciplinary system to an independent organisation.

But here’s another stumbling-block: When Labour offered me the chance to apologise and take a course on anti-Semitism, the people running that course would have been the Jewish Labour Movement.

That would be the same Jewish Labour Movement whose members secretly recorded Jackie Walker when she attended a “safe space” meeting (meaning attendees had been promised freedom to discuss anything, without their words being used against them), and then used her words against her by passing a version of that recording on to the press.

I would describe that behaviour, at the very least, as untrustworthy. Wouldn’t you?

The Jewish Labour Movement has been highly-critical of the Labour Party in the past, as have the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, all of whom have endorsed the call for an independent investigation/disciplinary process.

Perhaps they intend to demand that they should carry out such a process?

Whether they do or not, they must certainly never be allowed to do so.

Source: Jewish leaders accuse Labour of ‘letting off’ antisemites | Politics | The Guardian

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Right-wing Jewish groups are criticising Labour again – does this mean the EHRC will support Corbyn?

Marie van der Zyl: Unelected, unrepresentative, right wing. Why should any Labour Party member, let alone its representatives, pay any attention to her?

When I heard that the essentially Tory Board of Deputies of British Jews has again called Labour “institutionally anti-Semitic” I had to smile.

It suggests that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is unlikely to say the same after its investigation into Labour concludes – so these right-wingers are getting desperate.

It’s hardly surprising, really. The inquiry into Labour anti-Semitism would have to find evidence that the party habitually discriminates against Jewish members for no other reason than because they are Jewish.

This means, for example, that Jews would be specifically required to identify themselves as such in applications for party membership, and would have to be excluded from certain activities – such as candidacy for election – because they were Jewish.

I wonder how Louise Ellman would square that with her own position as a member of Parliament?

For a handy list of other requirements, see this article.

In fairness, we should not expect the Board of Deputies to treat such considerations with much respect – all of its members are appointed, not elected, and while they claim to speak for all British Jews, ultra-orthodox synagogues are not affiliated and Jews who are not affiliated to synagogues have no representation at all.

It is not a democratic organisation and as such is poorly-placed to criticise one.

Also criticising Labour is the Jewish Leadership Council – a charity which has been criticised for claiming to act for Jewish interests in the UK, it is self-appointed and unaccountable.

This criticism has come from major Jewish Organisations including the Jewish National Fund.

So when the JLC says, “The Labour Party currently attracts anti-Semites and repels Jews… It is the undeniable truth,” we can only conclude that it is what the vested interests in that organisation want you to believe, rather than any empirical “undeniable truth”.

Isn’t it time these organisations came clean?

They are taking issue with one of the largest democratic organisation in Europe, but they are not democratic themselves; in fact they claim to represent a constituency that has disowned them to a large degree.

Perhaps newspapers like the Metro should ignore these organisations until such time as they reform themselves into bodies that truly stand for all the people they currently only claim to represent.

Source: Labour shadow minister quits criticising party’s ‘lack of tolerance’ | Metro News

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Tax and spend pledges show neither Johnson nor Hunt can be trusted with our money

Johnson and Hunt: I wanted to use the image someone mocked up of them as ‘Dumb and Dumber’ but I couldn’t find it.

Has the Tory leadership election degenerated into a contest about who can lie the most blatantly and get away with it?

If their tax-and-spend pledges are any yardstick, it has.

Jeremy Hunt wants to spend £20 billion from Brexit “war chest” that will only exist if the UK manages an exit deal with the EU – and that would only be available for a year. That’s not enough for permanent changes.

And Boris Johnson promised public sector pay rises that were coming anyway as the years-long Tory-imposed pay freeze finally comes to an end.

According to Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, both candidates were really saying that they are willing to borrow more money.

This means they are happy to continue racking up the highest national debt in the UK’s history – something for which the Conservatives used to blame Labour at every opportunity.

Labour, meanwhile, is having a great time mocking both candidates’ “reckless spending commitments”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party went to great lengths to disprove claims that its own spending plans were unfunded during the 2017 election campaign, when Theresa May proved unable to do the same.

Now it seems both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt are unable to do their maths.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been accused of misleading the public with “extraordinary” tax-and-spending pledges, as leading economists and senior Tories unite in criticism.

The two Tory leadership candidates came under fire after Mr Hunt unveiled a no-deal Brexit spending splurge worth almost £20bn – while a Johnson ally promised big public sector pay rises if the favourite wins.

The spending race provoked alarm from Conservatives, including Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and the former leadership contender Rory Stewart, who warned that such promises would make it impossible to attack Jeremy Corbyn for his “unfunded” pledges.

The head of the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) went further, saying the two candidates were misleading voters in claiming they could dip into a £27bn “war chest”.

Paul Johnson pointed out it was a figure for one year only, so could not be used for permanent tax-and-spending changes – and it would not be available at all if the UK crashes out of the EU.

“There have been some extraordinary pledges – they add up into the tens of billions of pounds,” the IFS director said.

“They claim, somehow, that these will be paid for from this so-called Brexit war chest. Well, they are not going to be.

“First, that is only available in the event of no deal not happening. And, in any case, what they are just saying is they are willing to borrow more.”

Mr Hunt, as he set a new deadline of 30 September for a no deal becoming inevitable, pledged £6bn to compensate some industries from tariffs – claiming £1 trillion had been spent to bail out the banks.

But Mr Johnson said: “It is simply not true that, in any real sense, we spent £1 trillion bailing out the banks in the same way that he’s referring to potentially finding £6bn for the farmers and fishermen.”

And, on public-sector pay, he pointed out the freeze was over anyway – arguing the cash now being spent would be in jeopardy from a no-deal Brexit because “the economy will grow less quickly”.

Source: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt accused of duping the public with ‘extraordinary’ tax-and-spending pledges | The Independent

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This rural Mid Wales constituency is now the focus of UK politics. Here are the reasons

“Where?” Boris Johnson may need a geography lesson to find out the location of the constituency that could make a monkey of him (or even Jeremy Hunt).

Isn’t it frightening that both remaining candidates in the Tory leadership contest have names that can be perverted into terms for genital organs?

We have Boris Johnson on one side – a ‘johnson’ being a slang term for male parts; and on the other side, Jeremy C… Hunt, whose surname has been mispronounced so many times that no further elaboration should be necessary.

Does this mean that, no matter who wins, the UK is f***ed?

It may not make much difference, if current developments in This Writer’s home constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire run their course. Not only is it now to be the location of a by-election that may break the Conservatives as a credible political organisation, but it is also the home of the woman who was brutalised by a Conservative MP at the recent Mansion House dinner.

Janet Barker, of Builth Wells in the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, was taking part in a peaceful protest against climate change when Mark Field grabbed her by the throat and marched her out, his face a picture of privileged Tory fury.

Mr Field has since apologised but he has already done the damage. Here’s Ms Barker saying he needs to take an anger management course:

What a proud advert for Conservatism Mr Field is! In this Guardian article, Ms Barker reveals that after he shoved her out of the Mansion House, Mr Field said: “This is what happens when people like you disturb our dinner!”

Make no mistake; when this man said “people like you” to Janet Barker, he meant people like you, dear reader.

He meant members of the general public who are harmed by Tory policies. He thinks your place is to suffer in silence while he and his kind eat slap-up meals, bought by causing that suffering. He is a fairly typical Conservative in that respect.

Two more fairly typical Conservatives are Chris Davies and Glyn Davies, the disgraced now-former Tory MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and the current Tory MP for neighbouring Montgomeryshire.

The latter seems to think the former has “suffered enough”, as the old saying about Tories caught in wrong-doing used to go, and that he should stand for re-election to the Brecon and Radnorshire seat.

He told the BBC: “There is a process. There is a parliamentary process – we’ve gone through that process… I would vote for Chris to be the candidate. We have processes.”

Gibberish!

Personally, I think Mr (Chris) Davies should stand again for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Consider the mathematics here. One-fifth of the total electorate voted to push him out. A further half of the voters are unlikely to even turn out, as this is a by-election (look at the recent Peterborough result). This means Mr Davies would have to try to get a proportion of the remaining 16,000 or so votes – from Tories who are likely to think he made them all look bad (he did) and ‘Leave’ supporters who will probably see the Brexit Party as a better option.

A Tory with an unblemished record would stand a better chance, I would have thought.

Perhaps there aren’t any left.

I wonder what Ms Barker thinks of these shenanigans?

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Do the Tories really want a massive coward like Boris Johnson as prime minister?

On his bike: Boris Johnson starts pedalling the instant anyone comes near him with a question about his Tory leadership campaign.

News coverage of the Conservative leadership race this morning (June 17) is amazing – TV news types seem desperate to crown Boris Johnson a month before the result is announced… and he’s a complete and utter coward.

Where was he at the televised leadership debate on Channel 4 yesterday? Empty-chaired because he was afraid to face the public.

Where is he at the media press conferences today? Nowhere to be seen because he’s “too busy doing debate prep to be able to attend”.

He is the absentee candidate.

Clearly he and his team are terrified that his campaign will fall apart the instant it comes into contact with anyone other than compliant Tory-supporting press bods in the BBC and elsewhere.

He is leaving it to other candidates – and ex-candidates – to state his case. And they’re doing it, for crying out loud!

Consider Michael Gove on the BBC’s Today programme, defending Mr Johnson’s appalling morals:

He continued: “I will happily defend Boris on this. There have been various attempts to to mount personal attacks against him and against some other candidates. I think that is wrong. Look, in the past, I have had my criticisms and differences with Boris. But I believe he is somebody who is capable of being prime minister.”

There was a slight barb, however: “But the key question is – who do we believe is the person with the best record in office, and the clearest vision for the future?”

That won’t be Mr Johnson, then! His vision for the future is to say whatever will get him into 10 Downing Street.

David Gauke, a soon-to-be-former cabinet minister if Mr Johnson wins, made this abundantly clear when he criticised the candidate’s latest unfunded spending promise, made in a column in the Daily Telegraph. After Mr Johnson promised to give every home in the UK access to superfast broadband by 2025, Mr Gauke tweeted:

He’s backing underdog candidate Rory Stewart – alongside a rising number of other Conservative MPs.

Despite failed candidate Matt Hancock having declared for Mr Johnson, it seems his supporters are splitting between the absentee favourite and Mr Stewart, who is making a strong showing at every public event he attends. The contrast could not be clearer.

But Mr Stewart will never be allowed to test his version of Conservative government, and perhaps we should be grateful for that.

The groundswell of support for Mr Johnson is a rush towards political suicide by the Conservative Party as a whole.

Conservatism has been an abject failure and the UK will be better-off without it, so perhaps the rest of us should welcome him too.

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

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