Tag Archives: Sport

New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

161107-media-commitee-membership
Clearly IPSA hasn’t noticed. Or maybe it has…

It must be great working in the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, making up excuses to allow MPs to do all the things they’re not supposed to.

All with absolutely no accountability at all.

The new chair of the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee is Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins.

Damian’s job will be to make sure the committee continues its crucial work of calling to account and overseeing the UK press and media in a rigorous and completely unbiased way.

I’m sure Damian will be completely unhindered in this task by the fact his publisher is Harper Collins – and this year he has received thousands of pounds in advance fees from the publisher for a mysterious new book he hasn’t yet written.

That would be the Harper Collins owned by Rupert Murdoch.

So no conflict of interest there then …

Source: New chair of parliamentary committee overseeing UK press in the pay of Rupert Murdoch? | Pride’s Purge

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Sajid Javid, the man who trivialised the WWI centenary, shames himself on the economy

Sajid Javid? No - this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it's an easy mistake to make. This charmer's game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) - but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

Sajid Javid? No – this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it’s an easy mistake to make. This charmer’s game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) – but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

They say the secret of great comedy is timing, and Sajid Javid’s speech lambasting Labour’s ability with the economy could not come at a better time – to make a fool of him.

Javid heads up the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – you know, the government organisation that offended everybody earlier this week by denying everybody but the Prime Minister a chance to write a personal message on the wreaths laid at a First World War centenary commemoration in Glasgow.

Having made one faux pas already this week, Javid was set to ram his foot even further down his own gullet with his speech knocking Labour.

According to the Telegraph, he was planning to say that Labour’s “basic instinct” is to spend money, the party’s economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse-off, and this will be the equivalent of two-thirds of national income in 2035, while the Conservative approach would make it the equivalent of one-third of GDP.

The speech met with scorn before it was even made, over on alittleecon. In an article headlined Tory Minister Sajid Javid plucks some numbers out of his arse, author Alex Little pointed out:

  • Sajid Javid does not understand economics; national debt is merely an indicator of how much a government wants the economy to be funded by the private sector or the public. As government debt is issued in the form of bonds, all of it represents somebody else’s savings and more government debt means more private savings, while the economy is funded by the public sector.
  • Whether a low debt-to-GDP ratio is better than a higher one depends entirely on how it has been achieved. A fast-growing, dynamic economy can have a high level of government debt, while a slow-growing economy could have a very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • His timescale covers the next 20 years, making his claim a nonsense from the start. The electoral cycle is only five years so, for Labour to win in 2015 and continue winning until the date Mr Javid uses, they’d have to be doing something right!
  • Of course, Labour has not produced any spending plans yet and, when they arrive, the totals are unlikely to be hugely different from the Tories’ (although the way the money is used may differ greatly). So Mr Javid has (as Mr Little rather indelicately puts it) plucked some numbers out of his arse.

Mr Javid’s week is going very well – he has ruined a major ceremony with the behaviour of a schoolboy, then followed it up by showing that his understanding of economics – wasn’t he Financial Secretary to the Treasury before moving to the DCMS? Coupled with George Osborne as Chancellor, this could explain much – is worse than that of a schoolboy. And it’s only Wednesday.

Let’s all hope he goes for the hat trick.

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Tory disrespect stains WWI centenary commemoration

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

This is a new low for the Conservative Party.

Leaders of British political organisations laid wreaths at Glasgow’s cenotaph to mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War – but only David Cameron was allowed to write a personal message.

Worse than that, the Conservative Party and its allies then attacked leaders of the other parties – in particular Ed Miliband – for failing to do the same.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch showed exactly why she deserves to be out of Parliament by tweeting: “Really we need to ask where we are as a society, when politicians are so casual as ‘hand me the wreath’ without asking to write on it.”

And Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges brought his paper into disrepute by tweeting, without checking the facts: “Just seen the wreath. Ed Miliband is becoming a parody of Ed Miliband.”

Asked to explain Mr Miliband’s actions, a Labour spokesman told the BBC that his wreath – with a card stating only “From the Leader of the Opposition” – was handed to him by a representative of organisers the Department of Culture, Media and Sport only seconds before it was laid.

“Ed Miliband was not given the opportunity to write a personal message on the wreath,” he said.

Perhaps an even worse indignity was that into which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was forced. His read “From the Deputy Prime Minister” and a Liberal Democrat source said the gap between Mr Clegg being handed the wreath and laying it had been “a 10-second thing”.

The BBC checked with the manufacturers of the wreaths – Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, and was passed on to Poppy Scotland, whose spokeswoman said: “We were asked to send [the cards] to the DCMS and the wreaths were sent through to Glasgow in advance, but the blank cards to London.”

So what happened, in fact, was that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – which is run by the Conservative Sajid Javid – decided that the Conservative Prime Minister should be the only person allowed to write a personalised tribute. Every other political leader – including those of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – had to lay wreaths with a laminated description of their job, so they could not even scribble something quickly in the few seconds available to them.

The tell-tale was the fact that all messages other than Cameron’s were written in the same handwriting.

Worse still is the fact that Cameron’s message wasn’t even appropriate. He had written “Your most enduring legacy is our liberty. We must never forget.” Very stirring, but it would be more appropriate to attribute that to those who died in the Second World War, rather than the First.

Also, as Thomas G Clark pointed out adroitly in his Another Angry Voice blog:  “I´m pretty sure that most would agree that the practice of remembrance is a much more tangible and enduring legacy than the general concept of “liberty“, especially given that Cameron and his rotten government have striven relentlessly to undermine “liberty” with grotesque totalitarian and anti-democratic legislation such as the “secret courts” bill, retroactive workfare sanctions, the “Gagging Law” and the “DRIP spooks charter“.”

Worst of all is the fact that the sacrifice of more than a million British lives, and the suffering caused to more than 1.5 million British people who were wounded, some so severely that they suffered the consequences for the rest of their lives, has been overshadowed by a petty squabble engineered by small-minded Tories who wanted to make themselves look better than everyone else.

It was a silly tactic, easily exposed. David Cameron’s only logical move was to apologise for what happened, for the insult to his fellow political leaders and for the upset it has undoubtedly caused to all those who lost loved ones in the war and wanted them commemorated respectfully.

True to form, he showed he had a yellow streak instead. Our gutless Prime Minister had nothing to say.

We should all send him the White Feather.

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Rogues turn government Twitter feed against Miller

Found on Facebook: Members of the public on all the main social media are queueing up to take a pop at former DWP minister and benefit fraudster Maria Miller. How long will David Cameron delay sacking her, and how weak will he seem by the time he gets round to it?

Found on Facebook: Members of the public on all the main social media are queueing up to take a pop at former DWP minister and benefit fraudster Maria Miller. How long will David Cameron delay sacking her, and how weak will he seem by the time he gets round to it?

In comparison to recent events in this saga, what follows is light relief.

A so-called “rogue” Twitter user commandeered a government feed to post satirical comments about the Maria Miller expenses scandal, yesterday evening. (Saturday)

The three tweets appeared on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s feed, where they were picked up and shared widely before government watchdogs had a chance to hush them up. The offending tweets have since been deleted from the DCMS feed.

“Seriously though guys which one of us hasn’t embezzled and cheated the taxpayer? #FreeMariaMiller,” ran the first tweet.

This was swiftly followed by one that claimed Miller, who falsely claimed more than £40,000 in mortgage interest payment for a south London house, saying it was her second home while her parents used it as their first, was “like a modern day Robin Hood, she robs the poor to help the rich”.

Miller, who made more than £1 million in profit when she sold the house in February, was ordered to pay back just £5,800 and apologise to Parliament for failing to co-operate with an investigation. The final rogue tweet asked: “Is @Maria_MillerMP guilty? We will let the public decide.”

Unfortunately it seems that the Conservative Party has rallied around the (confirmed) criminal in its ranks and has no intention of allowing British justice anywhere near Miller. They’re all in it together, you see.

That is why Grant Shapps, who knows a thing or three about false claims himself (ask him about his other persona, ‘Michael Green’) wants to “draw a line” under the affair – and why our pitifully weak comedy Prime Minister David Cameron wants to “leave it there”.

It seems the DCMS is also happy to “leave it there”. A spokeswoman has confirmed it was investigating the hacking but, when asked if Twitter or the police had been contacted, admitted: “All I’ve done is change the password.”

A Parliamentary investigation cleared Miller of using public money to provide for her parents, in spite of all the evidence that this was precisely what she had been doing, including a recent revelation that the size of energy bills for the house indicated that somebody had been using it as their main, rather than second, home.

The affair has set off a public outcry, with calls for Miller to resign or be sacked, and for the former Department for Work and Pensions minister to face the same criminal justice system as anyone else accused of wrongly taking taxpayers’ money – like a benefit cheat.

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Thatcher’s police state – the culture that led to Hillsborough

It seems amazing that Jack Straw, a former Home Secretary, can be described as “very silly” for saying what we have all known for nearly 30 years.

Responding to the announcement of the Hillsborough cover-up by South Yorkshire Police, he said Margaret – now Baroness – Thatcher, the Prime Minister at the time, had created a “culture of impunity” in the police that made such corruption possible.

Anyone who lived through the 1980s should be well aware of this. Mrs Thatcher used the police as a political weapon throughout her period in office.

Look at the way she used police – and in fact transported officers from forces across the country – to intimidate miners during the strike of 1984-5; look at the way she used them to stop people celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

The Levellers even wrote a song about it.

According to the BBC website, Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Thatcher government, because they needed the police to be a partisan force, particularly for the miners strike and other industrial troubles, created a culture of impunity in the police service.

“They really were immune from outside influences and they thought they could rule the roost – and that is what we absolutely saw in south Yorkshire.”

In a time when most workers’ pay was being severely restricted by her government, Mrs Thatcher boosted police pay – by up to 45 per cent in some cases. I seem to recall she built up their pensions as well, and her government broke the link between a local beat policeman and his community, so that police were put on patrol in places away from their own homes.

These moves created forces that were loyal to the Conservative government, and who believed they could act without fear of reprisals; they had the government backing them up.

Many of those who took part in the Hillsborough cover-up – and other abuses of power across the country – will never be brought to justice. I mention this because I was in a hospital outpatients’ waiting room today, watching Loose Women (of all things). Before I was distracted by a young girl wearing a wrist brace, who wanted to tell me about her dead gerbil, I heard Janet Street-Porter announce to the viewing world that the police who were involved in the cover-up should be suspended.

It was 23 years ago; many of them will have retired by now, and former police officers are never questioned on their activities when they were on duty.

How do I know this?

Let’s just say I know a few ladies who were subjected to serious physical, mental and sexual abuse (over a 28-year period, in one case), at the hands of one man. These ladies appealed to the police for help on several occasions, documented by doctors – but not by the officers who dealt with them. Instead, they were told to go home. The ladies concerned escaped after years of abuse, but when they tried to seek justice against those in the police force who collaborated with their abuser, they were told there was no record of their allegations and the police officers concerned had retired. The police service refused to track down these former officers and so the crimes have gone unpunished.

This is what I think will happen with the police who were at Hillsborough.

A “culture of impunity”? Yes, I think so.

Hillsborough: Where sorry simply isn’t good enough

A mocked-up front page of The Sun, created to show how it should look on September 13, 2012: David Duckenfield was Chief Superintendent in charge of policing at Hillsborough; Margaret Thatcher refused to release information about the Hillsborough disaster that made the police look bad; Kelvin McKenzie’s “The Truth” headline in The Sun was a pack of lies that led to the wholesale boycotting of the tabloid by people in Liverpool.

It has become one of the defining moments in recent history – one of those moments that you find enshrined in a question:

Where were you when Elvis died?

Where were you when the Wall* came down?

Where were you when you heard about Hillsborough?

I was on the sofa in my parents’ house in Bristol, reading a magazine (it was probably Interzone or Starburst – my 19-year-old self was heavily into escapist fiction at the time) when the words of the news report on TV started filtering through my perceptions. Dozens killed in football stadium tragedy. Hundreds more injured. There were images quite clearly showing fans being crushed against each other; trying to escape; being lifted to safety by other fans; but I also have a recollection of fans trying to climb fencing but being forced back by police. Is my memory cheating?

April 15, 1989. The deadliest football disaster in British history. It killed 94 people on the day and a further two died in hospital, bringing the total death toll to 96. The number of injured totalled 766.

The match was a semi-final FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, being played at the neutral Hillsborough ground in Sheffield and overseen by South Yorkshire Police. This force chose to place Liverpool fans – the largest group – in the smaller end of the stadium. It became visibly overcrowded before kick-off, so police ordered a large exit gate to be opened, allowing supporters to enter straight down a tunnel leading to two pens. This caused crushing. Moments after kick-off, a crush barrier forced fans to fall on top of each other. (This information courtesy of Wikipedia)

Who got the blame? The fans.

Four days after the disaster, The Sun newspaper headlined a story about Hillsborough “THE TRUTH”, following it with three sub-headlines: “Some fans picked pockets of victims”, “Some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life”. The story, using words attributed to unnamed police officers and Irvine Patnick, then-MP for Sheffield Hallam, made allegations which contradicted the reported behaviour of the Liverpool fans, who in fact helped security personnel stretcher away victims and also gave on-site first aid. It was described in Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie’s history of The Sun as “a classic smear”.

The story seriously backfired against the newspaper. My understanding is that Liverpool has, as though it were a single entity, boycotted the newspaper ever since.

It took a further 23 years for the real truth to come out, and we had it from the Hillsborough Independent Panel today:

  • Serious mistakes in the policing of the match.
  • Falsehoods in the post-mortem reports.
  • An attempt to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised to relatives of the deceased for what he described as a double injustice: The “failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth”; and the efforts to denigrate the deceased and suggest that they were “somehow at fault for their own deaths”.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton also offered “profound apologies”. He added: “When police lost control, lies were told about how that happened.”

Kelvin McKenzie, the editor who ran the piece in The Sun, stated that he regretted doing so in 1993 but later retracted the statement and has remained unrepentant since. The Sun apologised “without reservation” for its smear piece in July 2004, more than 15 years after the original article.

Are these apologies enough? No. I agree with the fans who are still angry because of one simple fact:

Nobody has been brought to justice.

The football website Transfer Tavern put it this way: “The apology [from Mr Cameron] is undoubtedly sincere but what is as important [is] that those who were involved directly and indirectly in the process of corrupting this tragedy are brought to justice.

“Not just those who lost relatives, but society in general needs to search out those who not only falsified evidence but deliberately ignored it in order to suffocate the truth. The excuses will undoubtedly be wheeled out by those soon hopefully to be cornered, but a crime is a crime.

The Sun newspaper in particular is worth a mention here… In light of the announcement today… it is surely time now for The Sun to go… The choice must be removed.

The Sun passed off untruths to a huge readership and they need to answer for the damage they did.”

The truth – the real truth – has finally been revealed, but for the families of the Hillsborough victims, the wait for justice must continue.

*The Berlin Wall.

Trouble at the top – who’s best for Britain?

There’s trouble at the top of both the UK’s main political parties, according to the latest Guardian/ICM poll.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has become slightly more popular than the Labour leader Ed Miliband, allowing the newspaper to stoke fears of a new power battle at the top, mirroring the problems of the Blair/Brown rivalry.

But the Conservatives are no better off, after George Osborne was singled out as the weakest member of the Coalition cabinet and the one most people wanted moved in the much-anticipated autumn reshuffle.

The Guardian article asks you to believe that Balls and his shadow treasury team have become hard work, demanding that no commitments can be made on anything that has spending implications without clearing it with them first. He is said to be demanding that shadow ministers should just keep repeating his five pledges for growth.

I think this is media-manufactured mischief.

My instinct tells me it is an attempt to continue a narrative that has been created around Ed Balls, that he was a key supporter of Gordon Brown against Tony Blair, while Brown was preparing to take over as Labour leader and Prime Minister, a few years ago – by suggesting that he remains a disruptive influence today.

This would be invaluable to supporters of the Conservative Party, which is losing support rapidly for reasons I will tackle shortly.

But I think it is a false assumption. We’ve all moved on a long way from the time when Mr Miliband parroted the same answer, no less than six times, to a series of questions from a television interviewer. That made him – and Labour – look silly and Mr Balls would be a fool to encourage any repeat of that situation now. And he’s nobody’s fool.

The Blair/Brown rivalry was played out while Labour was in power; today that party is in opposition and the greater priority by far must be the removal of the Conservatives from government. All other considerations should be secondary to the people at the top of the party. If Ed Balls is guilty of the kind of posturing suggested by the newspaper, he needs to suck it in, get behind his leader, and show – by example – that Labour is united.

The problems within the Conservative leadership are far more serious.

I think, as a nation, we are more or less agreed that George Osborne’s tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer has been a disaster.

His spending review in late 2010 stalled the economy. Growth flatlined for a period, then the UK fell into double-dip recession, with GDP now less than it was when Labour left office.

His budget in March this year is now generally considered the most ridiculous travesty in living memory, featuring plans to give a tax break to the richest in society – the now infamous cut in the top rate of tax from 50 per cent to 45 per cent – which would be supported by a range of hare-brained schemes including taxing static caravans and heated pasties.

And it is now accepted that the Coalition is unlikely to reach its two main economic goals – the reason the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came together to form a government in the first place – before the next election in 2015, according to the Tories’ own Centre for Policy Studies thinktank. This is due to the failure of Mr Osborne’s fiscal policy.

The coalition had already given up hope of getting rid of the structural deficit by 2015 and the chance of ensuring that public-sector debt is falling by the time of the next election is now slim, the organisation has stated.

The Guardian/ICM poll says 39 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2010 want Osborne moved to a different cabinet role, if not sacked outright. Asked if Osborne is doing a bad job, agreement goes up to 44 per cent.

But it seems Mr Cameron might keep Osborne, firstly because the chancellor is his closest cabinet ally – his own position is stronger if Osborne remains in place; and secondly, because he believes changing chancellor midway through a Parliament indicates weakness to the country – and, in particular, the markets.

Mr Osborne might be the most prominent problem for the Tories, but he isn’t the only one. There have been calls for the sacking of Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary who brought privatisation into the NHS despite Mr Cameron’s claim – on Tory election posters – that he would not harm the health service. Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt are also in the firing line.

Transport secretary Justine Greening has threatened to resign over plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport, and internecine squabbles have broken out, with Nadine Dorries attacking fellow Conservative Louise Mensch, who is quitting as an MP, for being “void of principle”.

So which party is in the most disarray?

Call me a loony leftie Labourite if you want, but on the evidence above, I don’t think there can be any doubt. Despite attempts to manufacture disunity in Her Majesty’s Opposition, it is the Conservative Party – and therefore the government – that is falling apart.

Or am I misreading the situation?

Culture secretary and well-known misprint in bell-end catastrophe

When your name has already been linked with a well-known, if distasteful term, for female genitalia, the last thing you need to have happen to you is a mishap with your bell-end.

However, this is exactly what happened to Culture, Media and Sport secretary Jeremy C- sorry, Hunt, while in his capacity as minister for the Olympics he was celebrating the opening of the London games today. (July 27)

Here’s the clip:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD-Gbztqg5k&feature=player_embedded]

Enjoy the Olympics, everybody!