Tag Archives: Stephen Fry

If you don’t watch anything else today, watch Stephen Fry’s video, busting Boris Johnson’s Brexit

Remember “duper’s delight”? Stephen Fry’s new video shows how Boris Johnson – and Donald Trump – are fooling us all and laughing up their sleeves about it.

Cultural legend Stephen Fry has been making a name for himself in recent years with a series of online videos, busting the myths put about by the economic and political manipulators who (unfortunately) run our lives.

His latest takes aim at Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. In Mr Johnson’s case, he demonstrates how Brexit is an extreme risk to the economy – but we are being duped into it by a confident con-man.

It’s like the perception of businesses being successful if they have confident-sounding bosses. In fact, these people are harmful to their businesses – especially those who earn more. But politicians like Mr Johnson are keen to give them tax cuts, claiming that the money they keep will improve the economy.

In fact, these CEOs are far more likely to keep the cash for themselves and not put it to use to help their firm, their employees or the wider economy. This makes the economy more likely to crash.

Evidence shows that if workers do get the benefit – if they are given pay rises – then they work harder and the firm performs better. The example is the Ford Motor Company; Henry Ford said doubling his workers’ pay in a single stroke was the best cost-cutting measure he ever made. But Boris won’t have that.

Brexit provides huge opportunities for Boris Johnson to cut corporate taxes and create economic stability – but he’s fooling people into supporting it by presenting a confident exterior.

The message is clear: DON’T BE FOOLED! Do what you can to get rid of Boris before he crashes the economy again, devaluing your money and your job until they are worth nothing.

Now watch the video:

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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If you haven’t seen Stephen Fry’s new Brexit video yet, you should

Stephen Fry: There hasn’t been a poll on this (to the best of my knowledge) but it is still possible that somebody might not know what he looks like.

Stephen Fry has made another video about Brexit, following Facts vs Fear, which appeared last December.

In it, he skewers Theresa May’s claim that she is acting on behalf of all the people of the UK by pushing her version of a Brexit deal at us and refusing to compromise on it.

See for yourself:


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Rachel Riley’s wrongheaded accusations of anti-Semitism should disqualify her from mainstream politics

Happier days: We all enjoyed this kind of political comment from Rachel Riley (referring to a certain claim about former Tory prime minister David Cameron).

Countdown brainbox Rachel Riley isn’t so clever when it comes to the facts about anti-Semitism, it seems.

She seems to have fallen under the influence of some highly unpleasant characters who have been mixing false and real accusations of anti-Semitism in order to achieve deeply dubious political ends. Mostly, it seems, they want to legitimise the racist, apartheid behaviour of Israel’s Likud government and undermine anybody who speaks out against it.

If you have been following the ongoing saga of the false anti-Semitism accusations against me, you’ll only have to visit Ms Riley’s Twitter feed to know who I mean.

If you haven’t: I was accused of anti-Semitism over articles I wrote about comments by Labour MP Naz Shah and then-prominent Labour member Ken Livingstone, referring to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which happened in 2014. Her comments about it were raised two years later by a rabid right-wing blog, in an attempt to discredit the Labour Party, and Mr Livingstone was accused after he commented on her.

The accusations against me led to news stories in five national papers. None of the claims about me in those papers were accurate and all five have been ordered to publish corrections (the last should be appearing in the next edition of The Sunday Times).

False accusations of this kind not only have the potential to be extremely damaging to a person’s reputation and career, they are also offensive on a personal level. People who would never consider criticising others on the basis of their religion or ethnicity – some of whom are themselves members of often-persecuted minorities – have found themselves witch-hunted, often with the only evidence against them being that “someone was upset by something they said”.

(That was the evidence against me, by the way. Nothing I wrote in my investigation of Ms Shah and Mr Livingstone breached the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. The only evidence against me was an unsupported claim that I had upset an unnamed person.)

And a false accusation against a named person encourages the easily-led to victimise that person.

This is what happened to a teenage girl, with anxiety issues, who spoke out against the fake accusations late last year. Somehow Ms Riley saw the comments and denounced their author, who was promptly dogpiled by Ms Riley’s followers (and, no doubt, the followers of her friends – the politically-motivated demonisers I’ve mentioned above).

Dogpiling on the social media happens when a person writes something that another person (usually one with influence, like Ms Riley) decides is offensive and responds accordingly – triggering a serious of responses from their followers beyond any reasonable time limit. They do this because they see the offender as an easy target and consider attacking them to be a way to gain popularity points.

So yesterday, when it was suggested that Ms Riley was going to appear on the BBC’s Newsnight, discussing her approach to the anti-Semitism debate, you can imagine the effect on the teenager she had bullied:

Fortunately the programme’s producer was able to reassure the youngster that Ms Riley was not going to appear.

Instead, she has been on Channel 4 News, and had a spot on ITV’s Lorraine today (January 10).

The interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy exposed some of the faults in Ms Riley’s reasoning, as she invoked stereotypes that, if she saw someone else using them, she would condemn as anti-Semitic and denounce the person saying them as an anti-Semite.

Yes, using the term, “Bloody Jews again” does mean you’re an anti-Semite, if there’s such an intention behind it. Ms Riley’s problem – as you can see by the look on her face – is that she’s clear she didn’t mean it that way, but cannot distinguish whether other people are or are not.

And conflating all Jews with the nation of Israel, as Ms Riley does here, is also anti-Semitic. They are not the same and nobody should ever refer to them as such.

Many people have picked up on this – “I don’t look like a typical Jew”. Stereotyping Jews as having a particular appearance is classic anti-Semitism.

The simple fact is that Israel does exist and has a right to do so because it was brought into being by a decision of the United Nations. The problem is that the current government of Israel is racist and supports apartheid policies, but this should not be used to suggest that the nation itself should be dissolved. Of course Ms Riley should not be mixing reference to Israel with complaints about anti-Semitism in the UK – it is itself anti-Semitic to claim that Jews in this country have a disproportionate loyalty to that country.

Some of the people Ms Riley has denounced are themselves Jewish – the “wrong kind of Jew”, one must assume, referring back to a previous debate in which people claiming to represent Jews in the UK attacked other Jewish organisations that held different political beliefs.

One such claim was that the revered Jewish academic Noam Chomsky – I often use his comment about the tactics of privatisation – is an anti-Semite.

Part of this seems to be about the fact that Chomsky wrote the introduction to a piece by the late Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. It seems she claimed Chomsky was “promoting anti-Semitism”.

The blog Zelo Street puts Chomsky’s behaviour in its proper context: “Chomsky said of his introduction – the text is available online with very little searching required – “I made it explicit that I would not discuss Faurisson’s work, having only limited familiarity with it (and, frankly, little interest in it). Rather, I restricted myself to the civil-liberties issues and the implications of the fact that it was even necessary to recall Voltaire’s famous words in a letter to M. le Riche: ‘I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.’

He went on “Faurisson’s conclusions are diametrically opposed to views I hold and have frequently expressed in print … But it is elementary that freedom of expression … is not to be restricted to views of which one approves, and that it is precisely in the case of views that are almost universally despised and condemned that this right must be most vigorously defended. It is easy enough to defend those who need no defense or to join in unanimous … condemnation of a violation of civil rights by some official enemy”.

I raise this because it seems Ms Riley has been garnering support from showbusiness colleagues who have not realised what she has been saying – Stephen Fry being a prominent example. He said he was standing by her, as I understand it, in the belief that she was being bullied by others (as we have seen, the opposite is the case).

Let’s look at what happened when he was challenged by George Galloway, who has himself been accused of anti-Semitism by Ms Riley:

So Mr Fry, in reaffirming his support for Ms Riley, echoed Chomsky’s statement that “freedom of expression … is not to be restricted to views of which one approves”. Perhaps Ms Riley would be wise to take that on board.

Considering her failures with the teenager she bullied and with Chomsky, in the light of my experience of false accusation, and recognising the fact that she herself used anti-Semitic language in a television interview, perhaps Ms Riley should also remember the following:

The accusation of Jews as anti-Semites has hit a raw nerve. Harry Tuttle tweeted a lengthy thread demonstrating how they have been falsely accused. It makes for some horrifying reading:

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082923983228620800

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082925099815194624

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082925803262881793

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082926730476699648

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082928141121794048

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082929009321750528

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082930045360971776

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082931611614830592

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082932488790528000

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082933943752634368

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082935908549230592

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082947378154532864

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082979583870332930

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082985024587218945

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1082999371820662785

https://twitter.com/arryTuttle/status/1083056638305755138

Considering all of the above – and the many other incidents I understand Ms Riley has initiated – I doubt I was the only person to be concerned when a rumour emerged that she was in discussion with Jacob Rees-Mogg, of all people, about a career in politics for the Conservative Party.

The possibility of Ms Riley using her popularity as a showbusiness personality to boost the Tories would be extremely unpalatable. Fortunately, it seems to be untrue:

I mention it because she needs to be held to this – at least until she gains a little more perspective.

It would be nice to believe Ms Riley’s assertion in the Channel 4 interview that she is a “nice person”. Until she started speaking out about anti-Semitism, I had always enjoyed her contributions to some of our favourite TV shows.

My impression is that her comments are influenced by the malign elements I mentioned at the top of this article.

My hope is that she will realise what they are – before she inadvertently does something that causes irreversible harm to her career. They won’t care.

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Listen and watch as two British comedy greats skewer Theresa May and Brexit


Legends of British comedy have lined up to deal staggering blows to Theresa May and her plan for the UK to leave the European Union, as MPs prepare to vote on it.

Mike Harding used to be all over TV and the radio when I was younger, but seemed to have taken a step back from broadcasting in recent years.

That changed when a letter he wrote to prime minister Theresa May, in response to her missive to the nation demanding our support, went viral.

It’s a powerful piece – listen to the author reading it, if you don’t believe me – he recorded it for LBC’s James O’Brien. I’ll copy the text below.

The other comedy legend who slammed Brexit this weekend is Stephen Fry.

He shared an 11-minute animated video on YouTube and Twitter, detailing “the story of how a mythical EU dragon was conjured up” and outlining the “myths” that were spread by the campaign to leave the EU.

Here it is:

These attacks on Mrs May and Brexit – both of which have gone viral, gaining huge popularity with the general public – are critically important at this time.

Today (December 3), Parliament will find out whether Mrs May can be bothered to honour a binding vote by MPs, demanding in the name of the Queen that she make available all legal advice given to her on her Brexit plan.

Failure to provide the information will trigger proceedings against Mrs May and her government for contempt of Parliament, which used to be a serious matter but may now be worth very little.

More importantly: If she refuses, we will take this as tacit admission that the advice suggests her plan is not only bad, but disastrous.

That may be vital in swaying MPs to vote against it in the “meaningful vote” on the Brexit plan, to take place next week (December 11? 12? Thereabouts).

The information provided here by Messrs Harding and Fry could be instrumental in helping swing MPs against Mrs May’s plan – if you, as constituents, send it to your MPs in support of your own call for them to vote it down (assuming that this is what you want. If you support the plan, you’ll have to find your own supporting information. Good luck with that).

If the plan is voted down – and some commentators are suggesting that Mrs May could lose by a margin of as many as 400 votes – then Labour will demand a vote of “no confidence” in the government.

It seems the Conservative government is exerting pressure on its local party memberships to demand that MPs support the plan:

Ultimately, it may be a matter of reminding all our Parliamentarians that their behaviour will be a matter for discussion by future historians. The names of all those who take part in these crucial votes will be recorded – and may be vilified if the decision they take proves to be as disastrous as Messrs Harding and Fry suggest.

Does any MP – even the most spineless of the party faithful – want to be remembered as a toady who brought ruin down on the country?

I suppose we’ll find out in the very near future. We’ll have the names of all such representatives – if that’s the right word for them – before Christmas.

I don’t think there will be many, though. I think the arguments against the plan are persuasive, and that MPs will accept the need for a change of government rather than risking everything for the weakest and worst prime minister in living memory.

It would be ironic if a couple of comedians were responsible for swaying such a serious matter – but it would also be quintessentially British. Let’s make it so.

Here’s the text of Mr Harding’s letter – from the LBC website:

“Dear Mrs May,

“I am in France having a break having come here on the train all the way from Settle. I just read your letter to me and the rest of Britain wanting us all to unite behind the damp squib you call a deal. Unite? I laughed so much the mouthful of frogs legs I was eating ended up dancing all over the bald head of the bloke on the opposite table.

“Your party’s little civil war has divided this country irreparably. The last time this happened Cromwell discontinued the custom of kings wearing their heads on their shoulders.

“I had a mother who was of Irish descent, an English father who lies in a Dutch graveyard in the village where his Lancaster bomber fell in flames. I had a Polish stepfather who drove a tank for us in WW2 and I have two half Polish sisters and a half Polish brother who is married to a girl from Donegal.

“My two uncles of Irish descent fought for Britain in N Africa and in Burma.

“So far you have called us Citizens Of Nowhere and Queue Jumpers. You have now taken away our children and grandchildren’s freedom to travel, settle, live and work in mainland Europe.

“You have made this country a vicious and much diminished place. You as Home Sec sent a van round telling foreigners to go home. You said “ illegal” but that was bollocks as the legally here people of the Windrush generation soon discovered.

“Your party has sold off our railways, water, electricity, gas, telecoms, Royal Mail etc until all we have left is the NHS and that is lined up for the US to have as soon as Hannon and Hunt can arrange it.

“You have lied to the people of this country. You voted Remain yet changed your tune when the chance to grab the job of PM came. You should have sacked those lying bastards Gove and Bojo but daren’t because you haven’t the actual power.

“You have no answer to the British border on the island of Ireland nor do you know how the Gib border with Spain will work once we are out.

“Mrs May you have helped to divide this country to such an extent that families and friends are now no longer talking to each other, you have managed to negotiate a deal far worse than the one we had and all to keep together a party of millionaires, Eton Bullingdon boys, spivs and WI harridans. Your party conserves nothing. It has sold everything off in the name of the free market.

“You could have kept our industries going with investment and development – Germany managed it. But no – The Free Market won so Sunderland, Barnsley, Hamilton etc could all go to the devil.

“So Mrs May my answer to your plea for unity is firstly that it is ridiculous.

“48% of us will never forgive you for Brexit and secondly, of the 52% that voted for it many will not forgive you for not giving them what your lying comrades like Rees Mogg and Fox promised them.

“There are no unicorns, there is no £350 million extra for the NHS. The economy will tank and there will be less taxes to help out the poor. We have 350,000 homeless (not rough sleepers – homeless) in one of the richest countries on Earth and you are about to increase that number with your damn fool Brexit.

“The bald man has wiped the frogs legs of his head, I’ve bought him a glass of wine to say sorry; I’m typing this with one finger on my phone in France and I’m tired now and want to stop before my finger gets too tired to join the other one in a sailors salute to you and your squalid Brexit, your shabby xenophobia and Little Englander mentality.

“Two fingers to you and your unity from this proud citizen of nowhere. I and roughly half the country will never forgive you or your party.

“Yours,

“Mike Harding.”

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Are You For Justice? Join the fight to save Legal Aid

“There will be abuses of power and miscarriages of justice if people do not have access to legal advice and representation. That is already happening.” – Shami Chakrabarti (on the video).

The video by Justice Alliance UK (above), featuring Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, Tamsin Greig and the aforementioned Shami Chakrabarti discusses the real effect of Chris Grayling’s restriction of Legal Aid. Vox Political has published articles on this matter and you are strongly urged to read them, if you don’t understand why this is important.

Start here.

Then here.

Then here.

Especially here.

And here.

Here.

This one is important as it shows the contempt in which the current government holds attempts to protest against its plan to deny justice to the many.

Finally, this article shows how the Conservatives have rewarded the attorney general who tried to introduce sanity to their plan.

That is why it is so important for you to join Stephen Fry, Jo Brand and all the others in the fight to save Legal Aid. Sign the petition to fight for your right to justice: http://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-uk-government-save-legal-aid-to-protect-access-to-justice-for-all

Find out more: http://www.justiceallianceuk.wordpress.com

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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WoW Petition for rethink of disability ‘reforms’ hits its target

We're on our way: The WoW Petition is on its way to Parliament, having hit the 100,000 signature mark necessary to trigger consideration for a televised debate.

We’re on our way: The WoW Petition is on its way to Parliament, having hit the 100,000 signature mark necessary to trigger consideration for a televised debate. [Image: WoW Petition website wowpetition.blogspot.com]

What a great result for the WoW Petition – it has reached its target of 100,000 signatures with time to spare!

The petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform and a new deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions – rather than the political aims of the current Westminster administration or any motive to cut welfare budgets.

WoW (it stands for resistance to the ‘War on Welfare’) demands an immediate end to the humiliating work capability assessment and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act, along with an independent, committee-based inquiry into welfare reform. And it wants an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits, along with other demands.

Passing the magic 100,000-signature mark does not mean the petition has automatically won a chance to be debated in Parliament; the Backbench Business Committee has to agree to put it forward first.

It is fortunate, then, that the petition has won the endorsement of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Yoko Ono and Bianca Jagger (according to the Daily Mirror).

“This is a hugely important issue because many disabled and sick people cannot go out and protest against these devastating policies,” said comedian Francesca Martinez, who launched the petition in December last year.

“It is vital that those of us who can, join together to ensure these basic rights aren’t eroded away. With 83 per cent of disabilities acquired [rather than congenital], anyone can find themselves with an impairment, or [living] as a carer, and we must make sure that people are adequately supported when in challenging times.

“This is what a civilised society does. Instead of demonising those on welfare, we should be proud to create a society that provides for everyone regardless of health or ability. We will never forget the many tragic deaths already caused by this government and we will continue to fight in the hope that we can protect those in need from despair, poverty and death.”

Of course we don’t know exactly how many tragic deaths have been caused by the government because it is still refusing to tell us – the Information Commissioner recently upheld the Department for Work and Pensions’ refusal of a Freedom of Information request on that very subject (by me).

One death that we can commemorate is that of WoW Petition co-founder John Dyer, who sadly passed away in November. Fellow co-originator Rick B said: “We are resolute to take this democratic mandate and pursue the cause of making justice for sick and disabled people, and carers, a reality.”

Rick said that he himself almost died in July 2012 because of government ill-treatment.

Let’s all agree that we’re a far cry from where we were in October, when the petition had just 62,792 signatures, didn’t look like it was going to make it, and I wrote: “Are we all so apathetic that we are happy to sit around, eating our horseburgers and gossiping about whether the stars of our favourite soap operas are sex fiends… that we can’t be bothered to spare a thought for people – perhaps people we know – who are suffering for no reason other than that the government we didn’t even elect demands it?”

We’re not – and what a great feeling it is to be able to say that!

But my gut instinct tells me that we should not sit back and expect others to finish the job – not yet. It’s great that the petition will be considered in Parliament, but let’s make sure that our MPs know how strongly we feel about this.

What I’d like to suggest – and this is just a thought that has come to me as I was writing this – is that those of you who have taken part in the Twitter campaign might like to post another tweet saying something like “I want a Parliamentary debate for the WoW Petition bit.ly/XFS5Ur.

If you’re emailing someone, you could add that line after your signature – and this could be especially effective if you are sending a letter to the press – newspaper, magazine or online media.

And you could also add it to any messages you put on Facebook or similar social media.

We’ve got public attention now – let’s make it all worthwhile.

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