Tag Archives: The Times

There’s something about Mhairi – that the haters want to hurt

Mhairi Black: haters are taking a day to attack one of the best MPs in Westminster.

It’s the first working day of the New Year, and the haters are already up to full speed. This time they’re attacking SNP MP Mhairi Black for saying her party created a personality cult around former leader Nicola Sturgeon.

The claim is in an article behind a paywall on The Times website:

Check out some of the comments from social media:

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It seems there are plenty of people willing to defend her, though:

This Writer has followed Ms Black’s Parliamentary career since she was first elected and I was sorry to learn of her decision to quit before the next election. The UK needs more MPs of her quality, not fewer.

In case you don’t understand why that might be, here’s an example of her work:

I might finish this article with a phrase like, “‘Nuff said?”

But the sad fact is that not nearly enough has been said. That’s why we need a lot more Mhairi Blacks warming the Green Benches and far fewer haters dragging them down in the social media.


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Right-wingers rush to boost Braverman after ‘police bias’ article

Sulky: Suella Braverman is acting like a schoolgirl trying to stir up trouble over imaginary insults.

Suella Braverman is facing calls to resign as Home Secretary – or be pushed out – after The Times published an article in which she accused the police of left-wing bias.

But does she need to fear for her job when hard-right lunatics on the social media are rushing to support her?

The BBC has reported the issue as follows:

She claimed aggressive right-wing protesters were “rightly met with a stern response”, while “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored”.

The article was not cleared by Downing Street and suggested changes to the text were not followed, No 10 said.

Some Tories have called for the home secretary to be sacked.

It comes ahead of a Pro-Palestinian march for a ceasefire in Gaza, which is due to take place in central London on Saturday.

It strikes This Writer as odd that – for example – the Metropolitan Police, which has been found to be institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic – all right-wing faults, should be accused of lefty bias.

But it seems to me that Braverman may have used her article, in advance of the Armistice Day march calling for peace in Gaza (which she opposes), to stir up her attack dogs.

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Let’s have a look at what some of them have been saying (with relevant responses where possible):

Let’s have another response, covering the lockdown comment:

For clarity: Danny Kruger is a Conservative MP and his claims about the Armistice Day march are all false. It is not a march in sympathy with terrorism and it does not call for Israel to be dissolved. The only conclusion one should draw from his post is that he should be removed from Parliament as soon as possible.

The danger with this one is that Ms Wallersteiner may be seen to be inviting people to believe that everybody taking part in the peace marches have been calling for Jews to die and ripping down posters of Israeli hostages. In fact, the peace marches have all included substantial contingents of Jewish participants, and it seems highly unlikely that they would call for their fellow Jews to be killed.

Just to hammer the point home, let’s have another response to the same post:

I’m sure you get the gist by now; right-wing mouthpieces have come out in support of Braverman but nothing they say makes any sense.

Sadly, as some of the responses have pointed out, the cack-handed way the Armistice Day march has been handled by politicians like Braverman means hard-right-wing nutcases have organised themselves to converge on London and hold demonstrations of their own.

It seems they are determined to converge on the cenotaph that politicians, police and the media have said should be left alone as a mark of respect.

These are people who say they support Braverman’s point of view, remember.

Let’s see what happens on the day and lay any blame where it belongs afterwards.


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Scott Benton suspended: isn’t this double-standards after the Led By Donkeys sting?

Scott Benton: what he offered to do was wrong, but no different from other Tory MPs. So why has he been singled out?

It seems Led By Donkeys is not the only organisation that has been trying to entrap MPs by creating fake firms for them to represent by illegal lobbying.

The Times has apparently tried to net Tory MP Scott Benton by the same means – and unlike Kwasi Kwarteng, Sir Graham Brady, Stephen Hammond and Gavin Williamson, he has been suspended by the party pending an investigation.

This seems very odd.

Benton referred himself to Parliament’s standards watchdog and had the whip removed by his party shortly afterwards. It seems The Times had filmed him saying he could table Parliamentary questions and leak a Parliamentary policy paper, if he took a job with the fake firm.

But he did not pursue the role and it seems no rules have been broken.

This seems no different from the behaviour of three of the five MPs who were approached by Led By Donkeys. They did not have apparent concerns about being used as conduits for a firm to talk to ministers. Another, who said he could not lobby directly, said there was a way around the rules.

Only one refused to have anything to do with behaviour that might be used to attempt to influence government policy.

To This Writer’s knowledge, none of them have been referred to the Parliamentary standards watchdog or been suspended from their party whip (although, in Matt Hancock’s case, this would be difficult as he has already been suspended).

Why is he being investigated and not them?


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Was this extra-marital Boris Johnson sex act the reason Times story on Carrie Symonds was pulled?

Carrie Johnson: it seems she demanded that The Times keep its big mouth shut but if she had done that, there might not have been a story in the first place.

Remember Carriegate? The claim that a Times story about Boris Johnson trying to get his then-lover (now wife) Carrie Symonds (as was) a high-paying Foreign Office job, back when he was Foreign Secretary, was removed from the paper and deleted from the World Wide Web because of interference from Downing Street?

Now, Private Eye has claimed that the woman now known as Mrs Johnson had demanded the story’s removal out of a fear that the more salacious details of her relationship with Johnson would be trotted out.

(This is probably baseless; The Times may be a Murdoch rag but it isn’t The Sun or the News of the World.)

But now we know anyway, because Private Eye has told us that another member of Parliament walked in on Johnson and (now) Johnson just as she was attending to his important little places in an intimate way:

The Friday night attack of the ab-dabs was caused by a baseless fear that the Times might be more specific about the compromising situation [those of a timid disposition should look away now] by adding that the MP walked in while Carrie was giving Boris oral sex on the sofa.”

This raises serious questions:

Yes, blackmail – because the MP who burst in on such an act could demand elevation in return for his silence. Some have suggested that Gavin (now Lord) Williamson may have been that person, because he has subsequently done very well for himself despite being utterly incompetent;

There are also concerns about misconduct in public office.

Firstly, it may be misconduct if the sex act “renders the public office holder vulnerable to misjudgement” – such as trying to get the provider of said act a job worth more than £100,000 a year? Note that Johnson has ‘form’ in this respect as he funnelled more than £100K to Jennifer Arcuri, who alleges a similar relationship with him.

Alternatively, if the act occurred when the public office holder was “on duty” – that dereliction of duty/unprofessionalism attends the conduct and it could be seen to undermine trust in the office holder.

It’s alleged that Johnson was interrupted in his office by a colleague wishing to discuss work with him, and could have easily been interrupted by any number of other foreign office officials or government staff.

They may have used it as kompromat – compromising information collected for use in blackmailing, discrediting, or manipulating someone, typically for political purposes – as has been (humorously?) suggested of Gavin Williamson. Junior or female staff may have seen it as sexual harassment.

So, in withdrawing the article, it seems The Times did us all a favour and revealed that the man who is now our prime minister may have casually – and possibly habitually – put himself in the kind of compromising situations that may endanger the security of the United Kingdom.

As Yorkshire Bylines suggests, this is a matter for investigation – possibly by the Metropolitan Police, possibly by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. Personally, I would add that the security services might also wish to become involved.

Whoever takes in the task (if anyone does in Johnson’s corrupt UK dystopia), This Writer can only agree with the final sentiment of the Bylines piece:

Let’s hope for their sake there’s no photographic evidence.

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#Carriegate: Downing Street admits demanding that The Times drop Carrie Johnson story

Why is Boris Johnson’s government so determined to be dishonest all the time?

Yesterday (June 20), Downing Street was adamantly refusing to comment on whether the government had intervened to force The Times to drop its damning story about Boris Johnson wanting to hire then-Carrie Symonds into the Foreign Office for £100,000.

Now the prime minister’s office has given up its pretence and

confirmed it contacted the newspaper on Friday night and asked it to retract the story.

But:

Contrary to online speculation, there is no superinjunction or specific legal issue preventing reporting of the story.

Handy, that – it means those of us who have been repeating the story left, right and centre won’t face reprisals for doing so.

But that leaves us asking: what was the point?

This Site and others have already mentioned the so-called “Streisand Effect”, whereby efforts to remove a story from the Internet only increase public interest in it.

Has this been an enormous “dead cat” story?

Source: No 10 confirms it asked the Times to drop Carrie Johnson story

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Has Johnson bullied his own mother into withdrawing from a campaign criticising him?

Charlotte Johnson Wahl (right) with Boris Johnson (left). In between is Rachel Johnson, her daughter and his sister.

Boris Johnson really is a despicable runt, isn’t he? It seems now he has been manipulating his own mother for political purposes.

Charlotte Johnson Wahl had signed a public letter, to be published in The Times, criticising the poor provision of treatment for Parkinson’s disease on the National Health Service.

The letter had been organised by the charity Parkinson’s UK as part of its “Get It On Time” campaign to ensure patients can have reliable access to drugs while they are in hospital.

This is a topical issue as the provision of some medications would be endangered after Brexit – particularly the “no deal” departure that Mr Johnson has supported so strongly.

The letter was due to appear in the newspaper this week – but was suddenly pulled from publication.

It has now been revealed that Ms Wahl had informed the charity that she no longer wished her name to be on the letter, after having been contacted by Downing Street.

According to The Guardian: “A Downing Street source suggested Johnson Wahl had not been fully aware that her decision to back the letter was going to result in it being published in a national newspaper.

“’When charities are speaking to members of the public they have a duty to be fully transparent about why they are asking for support, the campaigns they are running, and if the information shared with them is to be used in the public domain,’ the source said.”

This seem utter piffle to me.

For a start, Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford has made it clear that the organisation always ensures that those whose voices it uses know exactly what they are doing.

“Our priority will always be people affected by the condition, and their voices and views are integral and at the heart of everything we do. As such, we are always open and transparent about how their voices will be represented,” he said.

Furthermore, Ms Wahl is a longtime campaigner in association with Parkinson’s UK for better provision on the NHS for people with the condition, predating her son becoming prime minister, as The Guardian‘s article makes clear.

Diagnosed with the condition when she was 40, she has lived with it for nearly half her life (she is now 77).

Earlier this year, she took part in a protest organised by the charity against the decision to cut the provision of a specialist nurse in west London and has worked closely with Parkinson’s UK to put pressure on politicians.

That was in January, before Mr Johnson was prime minister, and there was no intervention to stop her then!

And the issue Mr Johnson appears to have acted to suppress is extremely serious.

Patients with Parkinson’s who fail to receive the appropriate medicine on time while in hospital, often while being treated for unrelated illnesses, can find themselves left unable to talk or walk.

It seems that Mr Johnson’s policies make such a fate increasingly likely for people living with Parkinson’s.

And now it seems he is denying his own mother a voice to protest against it.

What a vile excuse for a human being, let alone a son.

Source: Boris Johnson’s mother exits Parkinson’s campaign after No 10 intervention | Politics | The Guardian

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Inquiry launched into Corbyn ‘frailty’ claim by civil servants – but it isn’t independent

Not so frail: Jeremy Corbyn looked perfectly healthy when he scaled the wall at a climbing centre in Leeds last October. If senior civil servants have been briefing that he is ‘frail’, perhaps they had an ulterior political motive.

The Cabinet Office has launched an inquiry after senior civil service sources were said to have claimed that the considered Jeremy Corbyn “too frail” to be prime minister – but it won’t be the independent inquiry that Mr Corbyn wants.

The prime minister’s spokesman stated: “The Cabinet Office is investigating this potential breach of the civil service code fully and fairly just as it would any other. If we are able to identify an individual responsible we will take disciplinary action.”

Mr Corbyn, 70, had demanded a “speedy and thorough” independent inquiry after The Times reported that two senior civil servants had claimed that he might have to stand down due to health issues.

In a letter to Cabinet Office secretary Mark Sedwill, he stated that the matter had “undermined confidence in the principle of civil service neutrality”, adding that “such discussions, based on false assumptions, should not be taking place, nor shared with a newspaper”.

He also stated: “For there to be trust in any investigation, there need to be assurances on its scope and independence. In the light of this, I would urge you to ensure that there is a speedy and thorough independent investigation, rather than one carried out by the Cabinet Office.”

In spite of this, the Cabinet Office has launched its own inquiry.

Will we be able to trust the findings of the report – and any action taken on those findings?

That will depend on what those findings are – and the manner in which they are reported.

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Damning #Brexit memo is a wake-up call for us all – including its authors

Theresa May delivers her Mansion House speech, but nobody's listening: Brexit has already made her the laughing stock of the world.

Theresa May delivers her Mansion House speech, but nobody’s listening: Brexit has already made her the laughing stock of the world.

Members of ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloittes may be waking up to an uncomfortable truth about their friends in the Conservative Government today (November 15) – that a Tory will turn on anyone.

The firm has spent six years helping the Conservatives push their punitive agenda of cuts and privatisation but – after a memo on ‘Brexit’ was leaked to the press – suddenly the Tories don’t recognise Deloittes’ work.

This is despite the apparent fact that the consultant from the firm who wrote the report (titled ‘Brexit update’) was working for the Cabinet Office, according to The Times.

The memo said Whitehall departments were working on more than 500 projects related to leaving the EU and may need to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants to deal with the additional work. That would undo much of the Tories’ work in shrinking the civil service, of course.

It identified a tendency by Theresa May to “draw in decisions and settle matters herself” as a strategy that could not be sustained, and highlighted a split between the three Brexit ministers – Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis – and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and his ally Greg Clark, the business secretary as “divisions within the cabinet”. So the Conservative Party is divided again – and we know that divided parties don’t win.

It said major industry players were expected to “point a gun to the government’s head” to get what they wanted after Nissan was given assurances that it would not lose out from investing in Britain after Brexit. We all knew this already.

Perhaps most damningly, it stated that “no common strategy has emerged” on Brexit, despite extended debate among the permanent secretaries who head Whitehall departments.

This is not what the Conservatives want the public to hear, so of course they have disowned the memo, claiming it was “unsolicited”, was not a government memo and the government rejected its contents. They would, wouldn’t they?

The government also tried to smear the memo’s authors by claiming it was a pitch for business – but then, government departments habitually ask firms to submit such work, so this is not proof that the memo was not requested by ministers.

The fact that it fell to Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling – the Transport Secretary – to pass these comments lends them no authenticity whatsoever.

David Davis is the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – what does he have to say about it? Nothing.

Grayling said he had no idea where the report came from and denied that it had been commissioned by ministers. But then, what would he know about it? He’s the Transport Secretary.

His comments – like “I have a team of people in my department who are working with David Davis on issues like aviation, but I do not see the scale of the challenge that is in today’s newspaper” – are those of a man who is only seeing part of the project, rather than the whole.

Meanwhile, in her Mansion House speech, prime minister Theresa May told an audience of dozing businesspeople that Brexit was an opportunity for the UK to “step up” to a new “global role”.

As what? The world’s clown?

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Tim Yeo loses ‘cash-for-advocacy’ libel case against Sunday Times


The news seems to be full of Parliamentarians – or ex-Parliamentarians – involved in sleaze of some sort at the moment. Here’s the latest example:

Former Tory MP Tim Yeo has lost his libel action over a “cash-for-advocacy” claim which he said trashed his reputation.

Yeo had asked for substantial compensation over three reports in the Sunday Times, in June 2013, which followed a lunch the previous month with two undercover journalists from the Insight team posing as representatives for a solar energy concern in the Far East.

They alleged that he was prepared to, and had offered to, act in a way that was in breach of the Commons code of conduct by acting as a paid parliamentary advocate who would push for new laws to benefit the business of a client for a daily fee of £7,000 and approach ministers, civil servants and other MPs to promote a client’s private agenda in return for cash.

They also contained comment to the effect that he had shown willing to abuse his position to further his own financial and business interests.

Times Newspapers Ltd said that the articles were true, it was fair comment and also responsible journalism on matters of public interest.

Yeo was not at London’s high court on Wednesday when Mr Justice Warby dismissed his case.

He has agreed to pay Times Newspapers £411,000 on account of its legal fees within 28 days, with any further costs to be assessed on the indemnity basis.

Source: Tim Yeo loses ‘cash-for-advocacy’ libel case against Sunday Times | Media | The Guardian

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Tory sycophant of the week: Tim Montgomerie

Tim Montgomerie: Before you suggest that he should open the window and jump, it may be worth noting that he's on the ground floor.

Tim Montgomerie: Before you suggest that he should open the window and jump, it may be worth noting that he’s on the ground floor.

Responses to Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday are always interesting, sometimes sinister – and sometimes unintentionally hilarious.

Yesterday (Wednesday), David Cameron and Ed Miliband were tearing chunks out of each other over the National Health Service, with the NHS in Wales coming under particularly heavy scrutiny.

In the midst of this, Tim Montgomerie, editor of the ConservativeHome blog and comment editor of The Times*, tweeted the following:
141023montie1
He is of course doubly wrong. Firstly, his tweet was made on the same day that a former cancer sufferer who was cured by NHS Wales expressed outrage that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has smeared the service and demanded an apology from Hunt to the doctors who saved his life.
Secondly, he seems blissfully unaware of the fact that the Tory-led Coalition Government proved – only yesterday – that it can’t look after the economy. This administration’s reason for existence was to reduce the national deficit to nothing by the next general election in 2015. We found out very quickly that this was not going to happen, but yesterday we learned that the deficit is actually rising again, partly because the Tory squeeze on workers’ wages has meant none of the people who have been put to work on a pittance have been able to pay any taxes.
The Treasury’s comment – that the government’s long-term economic plan is working – showed very clearly that the Tory-led Coalition is in no fit state to run the economy.
Therefore, by Mr Montgomerie’s own admission, it is in no fit state to look after the NHS.
It seems that ministers are more likely to benefit from NHS treatment.
*ConservativeHome is a Tory-oriented political blog that is slightly less influential than Vox Political – but still worth reading if you want to laugh at the things these people believe. The Times used to be a newspaper until it was bought by Rupert Murdoch.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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