Tag Archives: press conference

Cummings’s arrogance and ignorance mean he should face criminal prosecution – for his driving

Dominic Cummings’s presumptuous decision to hold a press conference in Downing Street over his decision to break lockdown rules so he could visit his parents should lead to a prosecution for dangerous driving, it seems.

As part of his defence, he claimed that he had driven 30 miles to Barnard Castle because Covid-19 had affected his eyesight and he wanted to see if it was possible for him to drive back to London.

Incidentally:

(For those who can’t read images well, it says: “‘Barnard Castle‘ – a Durham dialect term for a coward. It derives from the Northern Rebellion… by the Catholic earls in 1569, when Sir George Bowes refused, despite many opportunities, to leave his fortified position in Barnard Castle to engage in battle. Hence also the expression come, come, that’s Barney Castle, meaning ‘that’s a pathetic excuse’.”)

Driving with impaired eyesight – meaning that a driver cannot look properly – indicates dangerous driving, which is an offence.

Indeed, the chairman of the Police Federation took to Twitter to express his concern that anyone hearing Cummings’s excuses should not assume that they can do as he said he did:

It’s a microcosm of the entire Cummings scandal – a public servant doing something forbidden to the rest of us because he thinks he is above the rules that govern us all.

If you need information here’s an easy-to-read map of Dominic’s Travels:

There was plenty more of it in his statement, and in his answers to journalists who were on the scene. I commented on a few of these transgressions:

(In a statement release half an hour before Cummings started his press conference, Durham police said: ““We can confirm that on April 1, an officer from Durham Constabulary spoke to the father of Dominic Cummings. Mr Cummings confirmed that his son, his son’s wife and child were present at the property. He told the officer that his son and son’s wife were displaying symptoms of coronavirus and were self-isolating in part of the property.” Some have claimed that, as “the property” includes three buildings, it was possible for Cummings and his wife to have stayed away from his parents – but unlikely. They would have had to meet up with them to gain access and hand over the child – who could have been a carrier of the disease, remember. Also, we only have Cummings’s word for any of this, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw his boss.)

There can be no doubt about the rules we were all told to follow – all of us, including Cummings:

Also:

and:

See for yourself:

There has been a large amount of humour:

But far more bitterness. Both can be summed up in the letter by Alan Kell, mentioned in this tweet:

https://twitter.com/TVRav/status/1265030603654729730

The letter says:

“Dear Dominic,

“I hope that you don’t mind my informal mode of address but since you were calling all the journalists by their first name I’m assuming that this is acceptable.

“I’d like to summarise my main take-aways from your extraordinary press conference in the garden of No.10 Downing Street. Please excuse me if the points are a bit random, but I think that this resonates rather well with your rambling statement.

“1. The PM’s time is very important, but not apparently anyone else’s. If just 10% of the population spent 30mn waiting for you to appear you’ve just wasted around three million hours of the nation’s time. What were you doing, having a crap?

“2. You don’t possess a smart short-sleeved shirt. I can recommend many charity shops where you can pick one up for less than a fiver.

“3. You tend to panic when your wife is unwell. In view of this, I hope you are in no way involved with national security.

“4. Your family, friends and neighbours in London all hate you.

“5. Your Dad owns a farm with many houses, but not all of them very luxurious.

“6. You have a young niece who is prepared to put her life on the line for you and your family.

“7. Your parents shout in the woods. (I hope I got that one right.)

“8. When you can’t see anything you go for a 30-mile drive to test your eyesight. This tends to make your son want to piss himself, which is quite understandable.

“9. Your wife is a fiction writer.

“10. Any confusion related to this matter is all the fault of the press which persists in reporting on things, most of which have proved to be true, which you refused to confirm or deny for two months.

“11. You had some sort of conversation with Boris but neither of you can remember when that was nor what was said. Let’s hope that’s not the norm for your conversation.

“12. You are a very very important person, critical to the future of this nation, and you wouldn’t dream of resigning. You really couldn’t let your fag Boris down in that way.

“I trust that I’ve captured all the key points. Please do let me know if I’ve missed out anything important.

“Finally, thanks very much for going in to work on a Bank Holiday, I do hope that they are paying you double time.

“Hope to see you up in Durham some time. My family is from that part of the world, but you wouldn’t know them – they mainly worked underground in the pits.”

The comment that Cummings won’t resign because he doesn’t want to let Boris Johnson down is ironic as this scandal has turned out to be ruinous for Johnson’s popularity and for any credibility that his woefully inadequate government has had in handling the Covid crisis.

As a result, it seems Johnson has lost 20 popularity percentage points in just the four days this scandal has been frothing:

Boris Johnson‘s approval rating has plunged by 20 points in four days, amid the ongoing Dominic Cummings scandal, according to new polling.

Overall government approval turned negative, to -2 per cent, according to data from polling group Savanta ComRes. That represents a drop of 16 points in just a single day.

Mr Johnson’s approval also turned negative as the scandal continued. it dropped from +19 per cent to -1 per cent since Friday, the same data showed.

Public opinion of individual ministers such as Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and chancellor Rishi Sunak also fell. Both ministers publicly backed Mr Cummings over the weekend.

But Cummings won’t face prosecution, nor will he resign. Johnson will do his best to ignore the fact that his advisor’s actions have made it irrevocably clear that they, the ministers who supported them, and the entire Tory government consider themselves to be above the law that they impose on the rest of us.

And you know what? I think people are right to be angry about that!

So I hope you will all be opening your windows at 8pm today (May 26) to give a resounding “Boo!” for Boris Johnson and all his creepy cronies:

POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, even the act of holding a press conference was against the rules that apply to Cummings:

It seems he cannot do anything right.

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Boris Johnson had no reason to run away from Luxembourg press conference

UK prime minister Boris Johnson was shown to have run away from shadows when he walked out of a press conference with Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.

We were all told he had backed out because of loud behaviour from anti-Brexit protesters – and then one of that crowd contacted LBC with the facts.

‘Catherine’, of – guess where? – Luxembourg, had this to say:

We heard on Friday he was coming to Luxembourg and we decided we would go and welcome him. As you can see, it hasn’t been taken very kindly by people who back Brexit and the right-wing press in the UK.

There was no ambush. A lot of us are in our 40s and 50s, there were some youngsters, but most people were working or at schools so they couldn’t attend the demonstration. There were about 50 of us, some say 75.

We were noisy. We were booing when he arrived and were calling him a liar – which we can back up on the basis of his record.

We asked by the press to not make any noise while Mr Johnson spoke because the press wanted to hear what he had to say. We, being reasonable people who can be reasoned with, decided that was perfectly acceptable.

When he came out, we booed him. And if he took the lectern, we would have piped down. We’re not hoodlums causing violent scuffles in the street.

He never took the stand, which I consider to be an act of cowardice.

And they were right – because that’s what it was.

Source: Brexit: Protestor reveals what actually happened to Boris Johnson at that Luxembourg press conference | indy100

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Boris Johnson’s Luxembourg nightmare: And he had the nerve to call Corbyn chicken!

Appropriate response: Jeremy Corbyn’s imagined response by Frank Roby on Facebook.

Boris Johnson chickened out of a press conference with Luxembourg’s PM Xavier Bettel because a crowd of protesters were too loud for him – so M. Bettel held it anyway, and let rip at BoJob.

This man – Mr Johnson – holds the highest office in the UK and is our most senior representative abroad, and foreign leaders are treating him like a fool. I hope nobody has forgotten the way Leo Varadkar treated him last week.

This cannot be allowed to continue for long, because the UK’s standing in the world is getting trashed. But there is a strong vein of schadenfreude in seeing this fool treated as what he is; the UK’s Tory-loving mainstream media do their best to shield him from ridicule here.

That said, I really like this account from The Guardian:

That was extraordinary. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has just been humiliated by the leader of almost the smallest country in the European Union.

We were expecting a joint, open-air press conference but, with a large crowd of anti-Brexit campaigners threatening to drown out Johnson, it was announced that the British PM was not going to take part (presumably because of the demonstration, although that has not officially been confirmed yet). Normally in these circumstances the polite thing to do is to rearrange. But instead Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, went ahead anyway, effectively “empty chairing” his guest. At one point he even gestured at the space where Johnson was supposed to be.

Then Bettel just let rip. People often wonder what EU leaders say or think about Johnson in private. Well, now we know. The leave campaign was a pack of lies, Johnson’s talk of progress in the Brexit negotiations is unfounded, the UK still has not come up with any ideas about an alternative to the backstop. On and on he went, with particular emphasis on the point that the UK, not the EU, was to blame for the crisis. It was a “nightmare” for EU citizens, said Bettel. At several points he was loudly applauded by the protesters, because they felt he was articulating their anger.

Yesterday, Johnson depicted himself as the Incredible Hulk. As the Telegraph’s Michael Deacon suggests, the reality could not be more different.

Only last week, Mr Johnson was calling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a chicken – and falling fowl of KFC for it.

Now BoJob has been caught out in what appears to be a genuine act of cowardice, so it seems he’s the chicken!

In fact, I am probably within the realm of decency in this case to say: He’s a cock.

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson accused of creating ‘nightmare’ of uncertainty for Europeans – live news | Politics | The Guardian

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Trump’s talk of a trade deal with ‘everything on the table’ should trip alarm bells

Protesters: Apparently Donald Trump hasn’t seen any.

Was all the flannel spoken at the Donald Trump – Theresa May press conference intended to obscure the terrifying claims about a trade deal, made by the president and not denied by the prime minister?

Mr Trump said he is looking forward to agreeing a “phenomenal” trade deal with the UK, and “everything is on the table”.

Clearly, “everything” includes your National Health Service, your workers’ rights, your environmental protection rights, the standard of goods you will be expected to buy (chlorinated chicken, anyone?) and much more – all heading into a race to the bottom in order to comply with lower US standards.

Mrs May cannily said there would only be a deal if both sides agree, but with Tory leadership candidates who are highly supportive of stronger business ties with the US (read: selling out the rights and well-being of UK citizens), those of us who want to at least maintain the standard of living we have at the moment have a right to be afraid.

Elsewhere in the press conference, Mr Trump revealed himself to be something of a fantasist. He said thousands of people were on the streets to cheer him yesterday (June 3). Like this?

As for the protesters who really have been lining up to make their feelings known, Mr Trump said he had not seen any yesterday, and those he saw today were a very small group.

So he didn’t see these people:

And the small crowd today? They were highly vocal, it seems:

The evidence suggests Mr Trump only sees or hears what he wants to see or hear.

And that is also bad news if he is planning to do a “phenomenal” trade deal with us, post-Brexit.

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Salmond is right about Nick Robinson and the Scottish referendum

Salmond v Robinson: Neither of them are wonderful people but in this instance Salmond is right.

Salmond v Robinson: Neither of them are wonderful people but in this instance Salmond is right.

Scotland’s former First Minister, Alex Salmond, has launched an attack on the BBC and its soon-to-be-ex-Political Editor Nick Robinson over their coverage of last year’s Scottish independence referendum, describing it as a “disgrace” – and he’s right.

Now, dear reader, you may have leapt up and cried, “What? Mike Sivier agreeing with the SNP? Has the world stopped turning?” But This Writer made no bones about it at the time and nothing has changed since then.

Robinson came under attack after he asked two, complicated, questions of Salmond at a press conference and then misrepresented the long answer that Salmond gave. This Writer was among those who complained but the BBC whitewashed the incident.

“The BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson asked Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond two questions at his press conference on Thursday 11th September. The first question centred on the tax implications of RBS moving its legal headquarters to London; the second on why voters should trust a politician rather than businessmen,” stated the BBC’s complaints website.

“Nick Robinson’s report showed the second question on trust, with a script line noting that Mr Salmond had not answered that point.

“Mr Salmond’s answer on tax was lengthy. Since it was not possible to use it in full in a short news report, a series of clips were included making his central points – the job implications of the re-location of RBS, the accusation that the Treasury broke rules by briefing market sensitive information and his request that the BBC should co-operate with an enquiry. In addition Nick Robinson’s script pointed out that the First Minister said there would be no loss of tax revenue.

“The BBC considers that the questions were valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.”

This Blog made it perfectly clear at the time that this was not acceptable.

“Robinson’s report states, clearly, ‘He didn’t answer.’ If the BBC Complaints people are saying the answer was ‘lengthy’, this clearly conflicts with what Robinson stated in the report – yet the BBC’s judgement is that ‘the overall report [was] balanced and impartial’,” I wrote.

“What a lot of nonsense! No – it’s worse than nonsense. It’s a flat-out, blatant lie.”

The report fuelled the widely-held belief that the BBC’s news reporting under Robinson had turned it into the propaganda arm of the Conservative Party – a policy that we now know has done it no favours at all, as the Tories plan to disembowel the Corporation in order to give commercial television providers an unfair advantage.

It also led to a large protest outside BBC Scotland involving around 4,000 people – about which Robinson unwisely complained in an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

He said the protesters had forced “young men and women who are new to journalism [to] have, like they do in Putin’s Russia, to fight their way through crowds of protesters, frightened as to how they do their jobs”.

Not true. The protesters were exercising their right to make their opinions known. If anything, Robinson’s report was responsible for putting those reporters in fear.

The comparison with Putin’s Russia is, of course, ludicrous, but conforms to Right-Wing Robinson’s Tory thinking.

Salmond said he had avoided raising the issue while Robinson was recovering from cancer. He went on: “Now he is back. The BBC’s coverage of the Scottish referendum was a disgrace. It can be shown to be so, as was Nick’s own reporting of which he should be both embarrassed and ashamed.”

Agreed.

The Guardian‘s report put up a couple of quotes that attempted to show people on Salmond’s camp had agreed that Robinson’s report had been fair. But look at them:

“One read: ‘It was a good couple of questions, you got a good answer. You’re an old hand at this and know the score.'”

This, we are asked to accept, refers to the questions asked at the now-notorious press conference, and the answers provided. It says nothing about what Robinson did thereafter and should not, therefore, be claimed as any kind of endorsement.

“The other said: ‘We were upset about the package. Alex and my team regard you as a fair and professional journalist.'” This can clearly be taken as criticism – the author was “upset”, and clearly had considered Robinson to be fair and professional until his report aired.

Some might say it is better to let sleeping dogs lie – but in this case the lying dog is back on his feet and, at a time when the BBC is under attack from his Tory bosses, in a position to do serious harm to his own employer.

Salmond is not only right to raise the issue again – especially after Robinson’s own comments – but right to question Robinson’s fairness and impartiality. He’ll poison the BBC from within.

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BBC judges Robinson’s falsified report as ‘balanced and impartial’. Outrageous.

If you visit the BBC Complaints website to report the article on Harry Smith’s speech (see BBC uses unattributed quotes from Tory ministers and reports them as facts – Pride’s Purge), you may find yourself making another complaint also.

The complaint site’s reception page features a link to a report on Nick Robinson’s now-infamous piece of fiction about Scotland’s then-First Minister, Alex Salmond. Here’s what it states:

“We received complaints from viewers who felt Nick Robinson’s report on the Scottish First Minister’s press conference implied that Alex Salmond had not answered a question put to him.

“The BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson asked Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond two questions at his press conference on Thursday 11th September. The first question centred on the tax implications of RBS moving its legal headquarters to London; the second on why voters should trust a politician rather than businessmen.

“Nick Robinson’s report showed the second question on trust, with a script line noting that Mr Salmond had not answered that point.

“Mr Salmond’s answer on tax was lengthy. Since it was not possible to use it in full in a short news report, a series of clips were included making his central points – the job implications of the re-location of RBS, the accusation that the Treasury broke rules by briefing market sensitive information and his request that the BBC should co-operate with an enquiry. In addition Nick Robinson’s script pointed out that the First Minister said there would be no loss of tax revenue.

“The BBC considers that the questions were valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.”

This is not acceptable, for one obvious reason: Robinson’s report states, clearly, “He didn’t answer.” If the BBC Complaints people are saying the answer was “lengthy”, this clearly conflicts with what Robinson stated in the report – yet the BBC’s judgement is that “the overall report [was] balanced and impartial”.

What a lot of nonsense! No – it’s worse than nonsense. It’s a flat-out, blatant lie.

Having read this piece of make-believe, Yr Obdt Srvt sent in a complaint about it as follows: “You claimed that ‘Mr Salmond’s answer on tax was lengthy. Since it was not possible to use it in full in a short news report, a series of clips were included making his central points […] In addition Nick Robinson’s script pointed out that the First Minister said there would be no loss of tax revenue. The BBC considers that the questions were valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.’

“In fact, the report states: ‘He didn’t answer.’ Even if the report did feature a series of clips putting his points across, the message ‘He didn’t answer’ is what people heard. As you yourselves have stated that he not only answered but answered at length, it is clear that Robinson lied to the viewing public and his report was false.

How does “He didn’t answer” put across the main points of a seven-minute reply? It doesn’t. Your response to the complaint about Mr Robinson is therefore misleading.

Undoubtedly, you will want to complain (yet again!) to the BBC. Here are the necessary details (again):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

Phone: 03700 100 222 *
03700 100 212 * (textphone)
*24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers

Post:BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

Perhaps Vox Political should put up a permanent page – ‘How to complain about biased BBC news coverage’?

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‘Gagging Bill’ put on hold as government fears defeat

[Picture: PR Week]

[Picture: PR Week]

The Coalition government’s latest attack on democracy has been halted before it reached the House of Lords, after ministers realised peers weren’t going to put up with it.

The ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration’ Bill was due to be discussed by peers this week, but the part dealing with third-party campaigning such as that carried out by charities and popular organisations has been put back until December 16 after a threat to delay the entire bill for three months.

The government wants to “rethink” its plans to restrict campaigning by charities, it seems. Hasn’t it already done so twice before?

Andrew Lansley tabled a series of amendments, including one reverting to wording set out in existing legislation, defining controlled expenditure as any “which can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success”, on September 6.

But the plan was still to “bring down the national spending limit for third parties, introduce constituency spending limits and extend the definition of controlled expenditure to cover more than just election material, to include rallies, transport and press conferences”, as clarified by the government’s own press release.

Lansley published further amendments on September 26, claiming that these would:

  • Remove the additional test of “otherwise enhancing the standing of a party or candidates”. This is to provide further reassurance to campaigners as to the test they have to meet in order to incur controlled expenditure. A third party will only be subject to regulation where its campaign can reasonably be regarded as intended to “promote or procure the electoral success” of a party of candidate,
  • Replace the separate listings for advertising, unsolicited material and manifesto/policy documents with election “material”; this is the language used in the current legislation that non-party campaigners and the Electoral Commission are already familiar with, and on which the Electoral Commission have existing guidance,
  • Make clear that it is public rallies and events that are being regulated; meetings or events just for an organisation’s members or supporters will not be captured by the bill. “We will also provide an exemption for annual events – such as an organisation’s annual conference”,
  • Ensure that non–party campaigners who respond to ad hoc media questions on specific policy issues are not captured by the bill, whilst still capturing press conferences and other organised media events, and
  • Ensure that all “market research or canvassing” which promotes electoral success is regulated.

But this blog reported at the time that anyone who thinks that is all that’s wrong with the bill is as gullible as Lansley intends them to be.

As reported here on September 4, the bill is an attempt to stifle political commentary from organisations and individuals.

New regulations for trade unions mean members could be blacklisted – denied jobs simply because of their membership.

Measures against lobbyists – the bill’s apparent reason for existing – are expected to do nothing to hinder Big Money’s access to politicians, and in fact are likely to accelerate the process, turning Parliamentarians into corporate poodles.

Where the public wanted a curb on corporations corruptly influencing the government, it is instead offering to rub that influence in our faces.

In fact, the Government’s proposed register would cover fewer lobbyists than the existing, voluntary, register run by the UK Public Affairs Council.

And now a bill tabled by Andrew Lansley has been given a “pause” for reconsideration. Is anybody else reminded of the “pause” that took place while Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act was going through Parliament? In the end, the government pushed it through, regardless of the screams of outrage from the medical profession and the general public, and now private health firms are carving up the English NHS for their own profit, using Freedom of Information requests to undermine public sector bids for services.

In the Lords last night, according to The Independent, ministers were pressured to include in-house company lobbyists in the proposed register, if it is to have any credibility.

But Lord Wallace said the proposed “light touch” system would be more effective and the register was designed to address the problem of consultant lobbying firms seeing ministers without it being clear who they represented – in other words, it is intended to address a matter that isn’t bothering anybody, rather than the huge problem of companies getting their chequebooks out and paying for laws that give them an advantage.

We should be grateful for the delay – it gives us all another chance to contact Lords, constituency MPs and ministers to demand an explanation for this rotten piece of legal trash.

If they persist in supporting this undemocratic attack on free speech, then they must pay for it at the next election.