Wednesday 27 February 2019

You can't keep a good man down

I'm posting this because I think the Facebook/Instagram ban is as significant than the John Sweeney affair, if not more so. It's definitely very worrying.

Meet me half way?

Impartiality? Forget it. Let’s ditch all this impartiality nonsense, both in our expectations and in the BBC’s charter-embedded claim. No-one can boast a truly open mind. Even newborn babies are pre-programmed with one distinctly partial aspiration; stayin' alive. (The Beegees did that?)

We all come to the table with our biases and prejudices, but there is a more achievable, and more realistic aspiration available for the BBC. (Balance.) 

For we bloggers, there is no need to bother with any of that, but nonetheless, we do actually try to stay reasonable. That is why, say, Rob Burley is prepared to listen to Craig’s well-founded correction on the Twitter rather than just uttering the well-known working-class expression “Fuck off”.

You might find this hard to believe, but Craig and I are more dedicated and staunch in our research than you might think. We’re on a kind of self-imposed zero-hours contract, like those poorly rewarded carers who are paid for ‘hands-on client time’ only. Or like peripatetic teachers. 

Anyway, there’s much work going on below the water-line what with the challenge of checking, checking, checking, while trying to keep topical. When mistakes creep in, as they will, it’s often down to haste. No proof-readers, no editors. We have agendas, but they’re our own agendas, and we are attached to them.

That’s part one of my preamble. Actually, this is still preamble.  I just wanted to say that, at heart, we’re on the side of Tommy Robinson (versus the Islamisation of the Western world.)

We can’t understand how things have got like this. Why has the so-called liberal left decided to herd the general public into a kind of docile acquiescence in the creeping Islamification of the civilised world? Just why? Having just started to become enlightened, humankind is back-tracking toward the dark ages of old.

It would appear that the person taking credit for the draconian Facebook/Instagram ban on Tommy Robinson is Mohammed Shafiq. If that is true, I really do despair. Mr Shafiq is no stranger to this site. He used to be a regular guest on The Big Questions, very shouty, very dogmatic and very Islamic.

Has this odious person really shouted himself all the way to acquiring the influence and the clout to stifle criticism and impose a virtual blasphemy law upon the internet, while the likes of Hamas are free to spout their racist bile on the same platform?  How did it come to this? 

That is why we are on the side of Tommy Robinson. But Tommy Robinson is flawed. We have to acknowledge that, otherwise our credibility is shot.

Do you want me to go into it all? Craig advised me to let it lie for a while, but I’ve started, so maybe I should finish. 

To be honest (always try to be) I was very sceptical of Lucy Brown. What was that spectacular row in Woburn (?) High Street all about? It must have been something important.   She said she had Tommy’s prison number tattooed on her wrist! Who would even do something like that?  So why did she suddenly decide to abandon her enmity and work with Tommy again? There seemed to be something altogether disingenuous about Lucy Brown. But then, what did I know? I had only seen selected clips of her contributions within the actual PanoDrama. 

Now I’ve heard her interview with David Vance, all is forgiven. Well, nearly all. I’m still sceptical, but that’s embedded in my suspicious and ever-wary DNA.

Ignore Vancey’s melodramatic opening jingle, and if I may say so, his ever so slightly sycophantic interviewing technique, but the upshot is that Lucy Brown has engaged her brain and realised that the PanoDrama is a massive curate’s egg. (soundcloud H/T StewGreen / B-BBC)

Much of the evidence against Sweeney that Tommy and his ill-advised editors have pounced upon is incredibly weak. It leaves one wondering when Tommy Robinson went all politically correct. I mean, the word ‘woofter’. Is that really evidence of homophobia? Come on! The word ‘honky’?   No no no, don’t be silly, please.

There is also the matter of the retracted statements by two of his former Rebel Media colleagues, which were so convoluted and dubious that I couldn’t be bothered to decipher them. They should have been left on the cutting-room floor.  Same goes for the confused interpretation of Sweeney’s promise to disguise Lucy Brown’s identity. He was probably describing the thing they do to disguise voices by slowing the recording down to deep bass. Rumour has it that there may be more to the chap who was sacked "for his right-wing views" than meets the eye, and if so, that’s another weak link.

Even if one genuinely believes that these flaws were merely a deliberate attempt to mirror the BBC’s own flaws, I’m disappointed that they bigged-up and exaggerated the wrong stuff, which leaves a massive weak link and positively asks, nay begs for the BBC to demolish the entire case for the prosecution.

This video is worth watching.

I blame the team. The editorial team that threw the virtual baby out with the bathwater.  They could have administered a seismic shock, but instead, they’ve defused their own bomb. 

At most, the BBC could throw Sweeney to the wolves. If they do, much as I dislike his 'investigative journalist' persona, I’d think of it as an injustice. I might even feel sorry for him.

However, there is one massive ‘gotcha’ that Tommy’s ruse really did capture, and that is the BBC’s ill-advised collaboration with Hope-not-Hate. In other words, the BBC routinely sets out with a pre-conceived agenda and proceeds to seek out and cherry-pick from any source that fits the bill in order to hammer home whatever self-serving message they choose to send. There’s an extreme example of the BBC using very questionable sources on BBC Watch.

I'll repeat; I could have written the previous paragraph without Tommy Robinson’s Docudrama, but here we have a flawed, yet a potentially useful example of the BBC’s duplicitous methods. Even worse, we have a terrifying example of Islam’s ability to impose de facto blasphemy laws. We have Mohammed Shafiq apparently closing down Tommy Robinson’s Facebook and Instagram sites and currently endeavouring to close down his YouTube one too.

The only consolation is the thought that this ridiculous capitulation to the likes of Shafiq will prove to be a gigantic own goal - the injustice of the ban is quite enough to increase Tommy Robinson’s profile and it also goes a long way to making up for the deficiencies in PanoDrama.

Meanwhile, in other news, we have the malicious Corbynist MP Chris Williamson pandering to antisemitic members of Momentum, and the Labour Party opposing Sajid Javid’s decision to ban Hezbollah (Hizb’allah) together with its gaily gun-emblazoned flags.

Just imagine. If the BBC hadn’t spent the last six or seven decades concealing the malicious, stultifying, racist nature of the so-called Palestinian cause - more pro-Palestinian than the actual Palestinians - half today’s antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism wouldn’t be the problem it is.

Please. Bring your agenda alongside my agenda and at least meet me halfway.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

...and any other matters that take our fancy

Away from matters BBC-related for a moment, here's a Twitter thread today from Dr. Matthew Goodwin relevant to the news today:

  • One critical point about the vote for Brexit is that it marked the first moment when a majority of British people formally asked for something that a majority of their elected representatives did not want to give. It was always destined to lead us here.
  • Contrary to popular claims, we now know from a dozen+ studies that Leavers knew what they were voting for. They had a clear sense about how they wanted to change the settlement; they wanted powers returned from the EU & to slow the pace of immigration.
  • We also know that for large chunks of the Leave electorate this vote - a rejection of the status quo - was anchored in high levels of political distrust, exasperation with an unfair economic settlement & a strong desire to be heard & respected.
  • I do not think that it is hard to imagine what could happen if Brexit is delayed, taken off the shelf altogether or evolves into a second referendum that offers Remain vs May's deal, which Leavers would view as an illegitimate 'democratic' exercise.
  • We have evidence: 
  • (1) Professor Lauren McLaren has already shown that even before the first referendum people who wanted to reform the existing settlement but who felt politicians were unresponsive became significantly more distrustful of the entire political system.
  • (2) Professor Oliver Heath (& others) have found that as British politics gradually converged on the middle-class at the expense of the working-class the latter gradually withdrew from politics, hunkering down and becoming more apathetic.
  • This is partly why the first referendum was so important, where we saw surprisingly high rates of turnout in blue-collar seats. Because for the first time in years many of these voters felt that they could, finally, bring about change.
  • And we'd already seen an alliance between middle-class conservatives and blue-collar workers to try and bring about this change when they decamped from mainstream politics in 2012-2015 to vote for a populist outsider.
  • So I think that we do know what the effects of a long/indefinite delay to Brexit, or taking it off the table altogether, will be. Either we will see a return to apathy & ever-rising levels of distrust which will erode our democracy and the social contract from below, or another populist backlash, anchored in the same alliance of disillusioned Tories & angry workers who - as we've learned - are very unlikely to just walk quietly into the night. If anything, this will just exacerbate the deeper currents we discuss here

Sunday 24 February 2019


Sunday Programme featured another interview with Tanya Joya. (Scroll to 25:19) Once again, she reinforced the points I made earlier about the family’s culpability in this epidemic of radicalisation. These families and ‘communities’ are just as responsible for their children’s propensity to rebel or ‘break out’ as any other families whose over-strict, oppressive and repressive regimes produce in their offspring, pressure-cooker style; unhappiness, rebellion, criminality and general antisocial behaviour. 
“You live without romance, without sex till you marry, have children, have grandchildren, you die.” 
says Tania by way of an explanation for this behaviour. If there’s any cure for this self-inflicted societal problem imposed upon this country by the Blair government (and I don’t really think there is) then it’s only by whole families receiving ‘de-radicalising’ in the form of family therapy or whole-community re-habilitation.  Not a compulsory time-limited course of once-a-week classes to be endured and forgotten, perhaps with a spot of community service thrown in in lieu of pay-back.

I really didn’t know this, but I now see that Shamima’s father lives in Bangladesh. So much for the stable family background.

father figure

I read a terrific piece in the Spectator (£) by Douglas Murray in which he cited many of the references I made in one of my previous posts. I wish I could flatter myself that he had read my article. I wish -  but spot the convergence.


In the void created by the 10am start of the Andrew Marr show, one can be forced to watch Sophy Ridge. We all know she’s just ‘pretending’, like a little girl dressed up in her mother’s clothes. If you can get over that, (I couldn’t) you’ll have concentrated on her conversation with Barry Gardiner.

Fresh from his tearful contribution to last Wednesdays’ antisemitism debate in the HoC, a reptilian Gardiner now admits that the only one of his ex-Labour Party colleagues he believes to be genuine when citing antisemitism as a factor in their decision to defect is Luciana Berger. Does he doubt even Joan Ryan’s sincerity? 

While we’re on the subject of pressure cookers, Gardiner’s exaggeratedly measured delivery gives the impression of someone sitting on an impending explosion. At the end of an interview, his tetchy “Right?” reminded me of Jeremy Corbyn at his most irritable when, with a menacing stare, he croaks “Can I finish?”

The Labour Party’s concept of antisemitism is confined to stereotypical tried and tested tropes and memes. “Bankers” “Controlling the world” “Hook-nosed”, and various sad old slogans. They’re watching out for jackboots, swastikas and the Heil-Hitler salute. 

It’s Zionism that they have a problem with. Somebody from the Guardian has gone to Luciana Berger's constituency, Wavertree, to get an idea of what her constituents think. Of course, we can’t be sure whether this is a fair representation, or a cherry-picked, Guardianista/BBC type agenda driven exercise, but this is what I mean:
“To judge by the area’s recent political dramas, it’s a phrase that hasn’t gone out of fashion. Last week, the constituency’s sitting MP, Luciana Berger, announced that she was quitting the Labour party to join the Independent Group. Among the reasons she gave for leaving was growing antisemitism within Labour.”
The vox pop format continues and clearly demonstrates a combination of a profound lack of interest in antisemitism because “no dog in the fight”,  a fistful of old fashioned conspiracy theories and, most significant, a well embedded and completely misinformed and passionate pro-Palestinianism.  
“Stephen Brown, who supplements his pension by selling sausages to the local pubs, also said he was sad Berger was gone. “She didn’t deserve to be treated that way,” he said, adding as an unthinking afterthought, “even though she is Jewish.” 
Like most people I encountered, Brown is a diehard Labour supporter, but not one particularly aware of antisemitic issues, including his own. “I’ve got nothing against Jeremy Corbyn,” he said, “but he got into bed with the wrong Jews.” What did that mean? “The high rollers,” he explained. 
Though sympathy for Berger was common, almost no one I spoke to had a good word to say about Hatton. Michael, a builder in a baseball cap, thought he was untrustworthy. He didn’t know about his tweet, but he said: “I work with Jews in the building business, and they’re lovely people. Then, when you’re in the pub with your friends, someone will talk about the Jews, the Rothschilds and all that.” 
Anne Maloney, a retired teacher who lives in one of the elegant houses, is not a party member, but she’s a loyal Labour voter. What did she make of Berger as an MP? “I wrote to her once,” she told me. 
What about? “Palestine. I firmly believe Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territories. She wrote back saying she supported the Palestinian people. But I didn’t think she was campaigning for the Palestinians. The problem is any criticism of Israel is always seen as antisemitism.” 
Her neighbour, a woman in her 40s who didn’t want to give her name, concurred. She said that she voted Green and had never agreed with Derek Hatton but, as a supporter of the Palestinians, she couldn’t see what was wrong with his tweet. Had she read it? “A summary of it, yes.” 
The original wasn’t long. It stated: “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel!”

Ruthless murdering? No wonder they hate the wrong kind of Jews. The Zionist ones. The Jews that the BBC has been indirectly and disingenuously demonising for the last half a dozen decades, by simply missing out all references to the religious bigotry that fuels the Palestinians’ racism and the provocative aggression that arises from it.

Where Israel is concerned, these misinformed activists and their puppeteer churnalists in the MSM are like royalists who are more royalist than the actual King.  They are just as responsible for perpetuating the ‘Palestinian cause’ which is ultimately to replace the thriving Jewish state with yet another failed Islamic one as any of your common or garden racist antisemites.  

So I can only echo Barry Gardiner with a very tetchy “Right!” 

Tommy's takedown

Part of my frustration is due to our snails-pace broadband. We live in an area that’s supposed to be fast. I understand certain vital parts are housed miles away in some Godforsaken roadside box. Oh well. Can’t odds it, as people round here will say. (it means we can’t do anything about it except spend a whole day fruitlessly hanging on the old fashioned landline waiting for someone in India to pick up.)

On The Big Questions, they’re talking about reincarnation. It occurred to me that I want to be reincarnated. When do I want it? Now! I want to be reincarnated straight away, this minute because I feel so depressed and unable to 'make-a-difference' in the here and now. Maybe I could come back as John Sweeney. (But I guess there’d be two of us, which might cause problems)

I spent a whole load of hours yesterday trying to find a direct link to Tommy Robinson’s documentary PanoDrama, so that I could see whether he’s really got his teeth into something new and chewy. I failed.

All I have to go on at the time of writing is yesterday’s live stream, which broke almost as often and annoyingly as my connectivity.

I did watch what seemed like hours of a pretty shambolic preamble. The upside was that no visible aggression could be seen. After all that fretting about BBC staff‘s safety. This time at least, nothing of the sort materialised. 

I have to say that the speeches were  - in the words of someone I can’t identify - lacklustre. Specifically Gerrard Batten’s. I can’t quite see what they were for in this particular context. Yes, try and recruit for UKIP if you must, but not at the unveiling of the much anticipated PanoDrama. 

Everyone was waiting patiently; all they wanted to see was Tommy’s takedown. But no. After that interminable wait, the sound was unintelligible and the visuals were worse. We need to see the real unfiltered article before passing our verdict. Meanwhile, the jury’s out. However, if I’m pushed, I will just say a few more lacklustre words. 

If there was something in there about Sweeney fabricating a sexual element to finesse his takedown, that’s pretty damning. I couldn’t quite hear it. However, the methods, ‘sting’ and ‘honeytrap’, weaken the case and possibly engender sympathy for Sweeney, the ‘victim’….although the PanoDrama team could plead they’re deliberately turning the tables to make their point.

The whole BBC, and in particular the once-respected Panorama remit, has dumbed down. It’s a tabloid version of its former self. Intelligent probing, if it ever existed, has been abandoned and replaced by lazy, agenda-driven, superficial and cherry-picked gossip. In this case, it was a straightforward character assassination, using all the low-hanging fruit at its disposal and abandoning any attempt at deeper investigative analysis. What’s the point in that? If that’s not bad enough,  they seem to have stooped low enough to lie.

Anyway, maybe the actual video is available now. If so, I might have to retract. Don’t watch this space though, in case I don’t actually bother. I could have written most of the last paragraph with or without Tommy’s Takedown.


Update (Craig): And here it is...:

Foreign affairs

Especially for those of you who don't use Twitter...It's really easy to click on a random tweet that various algorithms forward in your direction. And, yes, I clicked on one yesterday morning. It came from this fine, upstanding-looking fellow:

Now, as a BBC-watcher, what really caught my attention here was that Mr. Shoebridge went on to predict that the mainstream media (including the BBC) would not report Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's embarrassing blunder in stating, in the very presence of the Slovene leader, that the former (Titoist) Yugoslav republic Slovenia was a "Soviet vassal state".

And, by and large, Charles hasn't been wrong, has he? (Yes, I've checked).

Now, the odd thing here is that Charles Shoebridge turns out to be a left-wing, Craig-Murray-type and that he's going at this from the 'the BBC is a state media lackey of the US/UK military-industrial complex' angle...

...while, in contrast, I'm going at it from the 'Well, the BBC would have gone absolutely haywire and made this headline news for days if ever their pro-Brexit bogeyman Boris Johnson had commited such a spectacularly historically uninformed gaffe' angle.

Anyhow, I have to say (and I sincerely thank myself for so doing) that I still think that I'm nearer the truth here that the esteemed Charles, and I'm presently toasting myself in consequence, in true John Sweeney fashion, with a flaming sambuca on BBC expenses. (In reality, an under £5 Pinot Noir from Aldi).

But, in fairness - and I'm sure Mr. Shoebridge will appreciate this - at least the eternal flame of the true spirit of the BBC (alongside the mighty John Simpson) - namely veteran BBC reporter Hugh Sykes - is on the present Foreign Secretary's case, agreeing (on Twitter) with a professor that poshly-educated Mr. Hunt may have graduated with first class honours from one of the twp usual posh universities but that - in BBC Hugh's words - Mr. Hunt is "clever but not very bright".

...breaking news...BBC reporter says Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is "not very bright"...breaking news...BBC reporter says Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is "not very bright"...breaking news...BBC reporter says Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is "not very bright"...BBC reporter Hugh Sykes says he hangs his view up with his coat at the BBC door...breaking news...Empire star Jussie Smollett says he's been attacked by a racist emu...breaking news....Empire star Jussie Smollett says he's been attacked by a racist emu...breaking news...the late Rod Hull has refused the BBC's request for a comment...breaking news. .the late Rod Hull has refused the BBC's request for a comment....BBC reporter says Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is "not very bright"...breaking news...(etc)...


And by a remarkable coincidence, Mr. Shoebridge also cropped up related to other story getting the Media Lens end of the internet (including Mr. Shoebridge) excited: "BREAKING: BBC journalist confirms the Douma chemical attack was staged by the White Helmets. The US bombed Syria over this"

Riam Dalati's job title is "BBC Syria Producer". He often works with Quentin Somerville, and both Quentin and Lyse Doucet have been tweeted for their reactions to this. (They've not responded yet): 

So what's this all about?

Thursday 21 February 2019

"Thoughts are my own"

I’m used to finding myself in a minority, and I’m probably in a minority over the Shamima Begum fiasco, but I find myself agreeing with all sorts of contradictory arguments from a whole lot of people I don’t normally agree with. 

Was Sajid Javid playing to the gallery with his hasty revocation of Ms Begum’s citizenship? 
Obviously, it resonates with public opinion, but if you think about it, what’s a Muslim Home secretary to do? Damned if he does; damned if he doesn’t.

It’s illegal to make anyone stateless; the Today Programme’s expert de jour said Javid’s decision couldn’t possibly be legal, as Bangladesh denies Ms Begum’s existing citizenship and rejects the possibility of her obtaining any in future. 

Is Javid playing a long game, knowing she’ll win her appeal? Is it his heavy-handed bid for promotion? Who’s paying for the legal fees? An Islamic charity? Crowdfunding? Anyone?) Ah! Tasnime Mohammed Akunjee is offering his services pro bono. (But surely more legal costs will be accrued than just his.)

The Begum family’s lawyer, Tasnime Mohammed Akunjee, has been speaking on the BBC. 
This piece in the Telegraph reveals a few of his best bits - his past statements and affiliations so you can get a picture of where he’s coming from. (9/11 was an inside job; has links to  Cage; wants Amber Rudd to find herself in a concentration camp; wants to ban products decorated with union jack; blames security services for ‘creating’ Lee Rigby’s killer by making life difficult for him; has been pictured with Jeremy Corbyn)

Another prominent Muslim individual has also spoken again on the Today Programme recently. Ex-police chief Dal Babu, who suffers from a heavy ’racial’ chip on his shoulder and describes himself as a friend of the family. He repeated the observations he’s made previously on the BBC, blaming the authorities (the police, the school and “Tower Hamlets”) for not telling the parents that their daughters were being groomed and radicalised, though he knows the authorities were well aware that this was happening. Had the girls’ parents known, he claimed, they would have stopped them from travelling. (I understand Shamima, at least, stole her sister’s passport to travel.) 
Again he mentioned the infamous warning letter, meant for the parents, that was found in the schoolbag too late. None of these points reflects very well on the quality of parenting. Perhaps they were all completely ignorant of their daughters’ religious proclivities or they were aware, and sympathetic, like Hassem Abase.

There is some confusion. I understand that another girl with a similar first name and also a ‘Begum’  was one of the influencers/groomers that enticed the girls to flee to Syria. She was the girl who was born in Bangladesh, and she was the one whose mother had died. Shamima’s (Bangladeshi) mother is alive, and Shamima was born in the UK. 

I listened to the Moral Maze. I was sorry Melanie Phillips wasn’t there. Clare Fox, Anne McElvoy, Mona Siddiqui (definitely the best of the lot) and Giles Fraser wrestled with Myriam Francoise Cerrah, formerly one of the BBC’s The Big Questions’ favourite Muslims and the most annoyingly sanctimonious person you’d ever wish to clap eyes on, and Haras Rafiq as well as Richard (Counter Terrorism) Walton. It arrived at little or no satisfactory conclusion.

The argument for allowing Begum and child back to face ‘due process’ hinges on the vagueness of what constitutes substantive evidence. “What am I supposed to have done?” “ I’ve only been a housewife” and so on.
If she hasn’t committed any actual violence and is merely an ‘enabler’ can she be convicted of anything much? It looks doubtful. On the other hand, if she’s left to the mercy of fate, what about the baby, who is technically British? 

Some so-called experts say these people can never be genuinely un-radicalised. I don’t know about that - lingering tribalism is one reason why I’m still a tiny bit wary of Maajid Nawaz. On the other hand, look at Mosab Hassan Yousef aka Son of Hamas. He seems like a genuine, thoroughly un-radicalised guy. But was he ever radicalised in the first place, or was he one of those rare individuals who was born with innate curiosity and cynicism?

Anyway, I still don’t think Shamima Begum’s fate is the most important issue. It seems like an inordinate waste of time and money, endlessly anguishing over that one individual. By all means, keep her away from the public, but let’s focus on the real problem, which is the Islamification of the west. 

God, if only Tommy Robinson would stop using the word Mumpf  instead of the conventional ‘month’ and start pronouncing ‘anything’ and ‘everything’ without the emphatic, nay, percussive k at the end, he might acquire the credibility that prevents people like Douglas Murray and Melanie Phillips viewing him with a kind of classist disdain. Join forces! Tommy’s got the chutzpah and the pugilistic derring-do and you’ve got the eloquence and education.

I myself am a terrible snob - but not a classist-type snob.  (Can you be snobbish about the abject stupidity of stupid people who think they’re clever?)  If so, I’m either that kind of snob, or I’m actually that kind of person. Or both. (Don’t tell me which one you think fits best) 

Important scientific breakthrough

Thank God!

At last, there's been an important breakthrough in an area of research that has been baffling academia for at least three years. Quick! Someone tell Anna Hughes and I hope her cold is better.

Zebras; stripes; why?
No wonder those WW1 battleships weren't bothered by horseflies

Hollow words

I’m bewildered. I do wish one of the BBC’s terrier-like inquisitors were also bewildered enough to question the appropriate individuals on my behalf. Simplified to the point of banality, as follows:

Of the original magnificent seven Labour Party defectors, only Berger and Gapes cited the Corbers’ / McDonnell leadership’s antisemitism as a ‘red line’; the straw that broke the camel's back. What all seven seemed to have in common was their opposition to Brexit. 

Of the eight Labour Party defectors  (the original seven, plus Joan Ryan) only Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan turned up for the HoC debate on antisemitism

To me, the ‘defection’ itself implicitly shines a light on the majority - let’s call them the ‘stay-and-fighters’. By the same token, the paucity of attendees at this timely HoC debate surely says something about the ‘stay-away-ers’.

Notable Labour attendees were Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips. Notable absentees were…. ….anyone from the shadow front bench bar Barry Gardiner  (more of whom later) 
Where was Tom Watson? 

I don’t know the parliamentary convention regarding one’s presence at a debate in which one doesn’t intend to speak. Do many people attend such debates as onlookers, either to show solidarity or at any rate to show an interest? 

Could it be that all the nominally supportive absentees would have been there but for other, more pressing commitments? I don’t know, but the vast acres of empty green leather painted a picture.

Barry Gardiner became quite tearful and emotional. But his words rang hollow. He avoided criticising his party’s leadership, and I’m afraid any number of stifled sobs are no substitute for the specificity that the occasion demanded. Theresa Villiers was very specific. 

Other notable and unexpected performances were given by Guto BebbIvan Lewis and Maria Caulfield who listed a set of parallels between what is happening now and the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Lastly, a curate’s egg of a speech by Clive Lewis. It was one of those ‘racism in all its forms’ contributions, which I for one could do without in a debate that was supposed to be about antisemitism.

No-one, but no-one mentioned Islam. Most of the loudest voices were quick to identify ‘the far right’. All this shilly-shallying around - could it be an indication that the Labour party is conspicuously avoiding its own responsibility for the Blair Government’s deliberate open-door policy, which was to import Labour voters from third world countries to ensure their position in perpetuity? 

Debate on antisemitism Wed 20th February 2019

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Classic BBC understands

Just in...

Open Thread

Everyone loves a dachshund video, so what better way to launch a new open thread than with one of the latest specimens of that viral breed?

If anyone can think of a way to connect it to the BBC (maybe even Newsnight's John Sweeney), please feel free to let us know.

Thank you for your comments and support.

Cue dog...

Tanya Joya

Here's the transcript of Martha Kearney's interview with Tanya Joya for your information. It's as accurate as I could manage. 

You’ll have heard the home secretary vowing to do anything in his power to prevent people who went to Syria to join so-called Islamic State from returning to the UK. Shamima  Begun who joined IS at the age of 15 has been appealing to the authorities to come back with her newborn baby.  One woman who understands what that’s like is Tania Joya who was once nicknamed ‘the first lady of ISIS’ after marrying an American Jihadi. She grew up in Harrow in north London and now lives in Texas after fleeing from Syria with her three children.

I understand that she’s a product of her environment. What’s typical of Bengali Muslim families is that we prioritise religious norms and rules and we don’t discuss at home the rule of law and respecting due process. It’s more about mysticism, (which we know we can’t (?) ) understand and it’s about God and they use it to control girls and the men use it to control women and, communities and it comes like that.


Is that what happened to you do you think?

It did happen to me because I moved from Harrow to Barking, and Barking is a hot pocket for extremists, but my parents, they’re from a generation that wasn’t too interested in religion, but it was cultural, so it wasn’t until they - after September 11th, like, I went away in 2003 to Syria and then I didn’t see my family for ten years and when I came back they were all really religious. And what was so ironic is that I stopped being a Muslim and I took off the hijab and things while after going to Muslim countries, to lived there, and I got turned off even more, and then I came back to London and all my family were practising and suddenly very strict on themselves and I noticed it wasn’t just my family, like, in London, in general, became a lot more… Islamic. (laughter)’s peculiar.


What was life like for you when you went to Syria?

So I’ve been to Syria three times, before the war to Damascus and it was lovely, but it’s not  like going back in time because they were so hard back from the rest of the world, so I left….everything was nice then, but when my husband took me the first time against my will and I wasn’t ready to do that, to go to Syria during a war because I had children and I was pregnant and I wasn’t ready to see my children die, so yeah, I went into - it was a war zone - I got a taste of hell and I knew I wasn’t going to put up with it, not for my husband, any more.


When you heard what Shamima Begum has been saying since she left life under so-called Islamic State, what do you think about the kind of things she’s been saying - she’s come under criticism from some people, for not expressing enough remorse

Yes. I mean who wouldn’t be frustrated, it’s like a parent/teenager relationship - teenagers are obnoxious, and they’re not really fully formed in their maturity, She doesn’t know what to think. Everything she’s saying, she’s just a mouthpiece for Islamic State. She’s just repeating what she’s been told she has to say. She doesn’t have her own thoughts because she doesn’t know anything different, she hasn’t had enough exposure. That’s what I believe.

She has caused some offence in this country by making comparisons between the Manchester Arena attack on the Ariana Grande fans and the kind of bombings that took place in Syria.

I think, with these people, their understanding of life is warped. They don’t believe this life is real. they think it’s temporary, like a dream, like as insignificant as a dream; they think the real, life, the eternal life, starts after death. So they’re delusional, they’re living out this fantasy cos at one point in their life I believe they want to escape reality, and we have to get them out of that mindset because it’s very dangerous. It’s important that these people learn that you live once. And you have to respect life. You just don’t think oh, I’m going to kill a child, it’s ok because he’s going to come back alive in heaven because we don’t have a   ? in our religion. We don’t have to crack their way of thinking as they don’t know how to think straight.

So what do you think should happen now to Shamima Begum?

I think the most humanitarian thing we can do is help her child, and we don’t want to separate mother and child, and she is a British citizen and she has rights and we’re going to show her due process and show her what justice is because she thinks a draconian lifestyle is justice, but it’s not; and she’ll learn that. She’ll mature, and she’ll learn where she’s gone wrong. She’s a smarter teenager than I was so I know she’s going to learn if she’s open to it, and I believe she’s just going to grow out of it eventually


Although you’ll have heard what the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been saying, he says whatever role the role who went to Syria took in the so-called caliphate they all supported a terrorist organisation and in doing so they’ve shown that they hate our country and the values we stand for.

He’s right, and he’s entitled to his views, but I don’t know if he’s a practising Muslim and I shouldn’t really judge him, whether he is or not, but there’s a child involved and now we know better, now we know she has an innocent life on the line, we can’t say ok you just have to die cos your mum was a 
foolish girl. We can do better. We can bring them back and we can show them how western values are more compassionate to humans than Islamic law.

Amazing disgrace

Last Sunday I started to write a post about something that had been mystifying me for some time. Of course, I didn’t finish writing it because, life.

Anyway, it turns out to have been spookily prescient. (Read your palm sir?)

The piece started off by expressing my disbelief and incredulity about how certain Labour MPs could sit there behind Jeremy Corbyn and not quit. About a dozen names came to mind, but the only one from my little list that turned out to be amongst the actual secret seven was Luciana Berger. I’d completely forgotten about Chuka Ummuna and I was barely conscious of the other six.

Surely these MPs have to do something, I thought,  even if only out of exasperation. How can they stay there? Hard, hard left; weak and woolly over Brexit. Another poll has found that everyone now realises that Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic. So the Great anti-racist is a Racist. (Not that many people seem particularly bothered.)

I wittered on, stream of consciousness-wise, about splits. There are no winners, I mused.  Both factions are weakened; the main body is damaged and the breakaways struggle. Those who ‘stay and fight’ claim their over-arching concern is deposing the Tories.

There’s Brexit, and there’s antisemitism. The thing is, where does Monday’s long-awaited declaration of independence (Lexit?) (Cexit?) leave Labour’s remaining anti-Corbyn MPs? Desperately struggling to justify their position - but how?

For your information, here’s the list of MPs I got wrong. (with one exception) John Mann, Ann Clwyd, Joan Ryan, Wes Streeting, Liz Kendall, Anna Turley, Kate Hoey, Lisa Nandy and even Tom Watson. That’s not even counting Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth, the recipients of much of the abuse. 

How can they stay?

Anyway, that was Sunday. This is Tuesday.


D’you wanna know the countries that have the worst record for persecuting Christians? 
Nigeria; Iraq; Uzbekistan; Lebanon; Pakistan; Egypt; Uganda; Indonesia; Saudi Arabia; Iran and last but not least, the UK!!.

Not Israel!!  Sarah Montague, Jonny Diamond and anyone who’s gullible enough to listen to them, put that in your pipe and smirk it.


I heard Tim Stanley’s Thought For the Day this morning. It was about Shamima Begum. People who run away to join I.S. are following a perverse distortion of Islam, he opined. Hmm. He may have big ears, but he’s not listening. 

The best sense I’ve heard spoken in a long, long time on the BBC came straight afterwards, from an ex Jihadi bride who has found sanctuary in the US. Her interview with Martha Kearney contained the most sensible Thoughts for Any Day I’ve ever heard. 

The line wasn’t good. It was blurred and echoey. When ‘listen again’ is available I’ll listen again.

Meanwhile, here’s the gist of her wise advice: Shamima Begum has been brainwashed but she is intelligent and will mature in time. The Islamist belief - or should that be Islamic - (actually extreme versions of Christianity share this) is that this life is but a mere preparation for the eternal life to follow. They regard human life as of little importance (for the many, not the few, as the leaders’ longevity will attest.)
In many traditionally Islamic countries, extreme religiosity was beginning to decline, only to have taken up a bizarre resurgence in…Britain. 
Amazing disgrace. Extreme religiosity…. once was lost but now is found. It’s the families; it’s the communities; it’s Islam, stupid.

Monday 18 February 2019

What The Papers (don't) Say

The British press has really gone to town on Shamima Begum’s plea for sympathy. Indeed, it is outrageous that she entertains such expectations while remaining so steadfastly unrepentant. 

“‘Show me some sympathy,” says the Telegraph, “I deserve sympathy,” shouts the Metro; the Mirror goes with “I had a good time” and The Sun goes with the cheeky ”Sympathy? You must be kidding”

By splashing those headlines in gigantic lettering all these newspapers are obviously wallowing in it.  They’re championing UK values! Echoing the will of the people! Speaking for the country!  

That may well be true - I suspect that many, many people think she should rot in hell. But here’s the thing. Do we know, in legal terms, what constitutes the ‘uman rights of a clearly disloyal (but technically still British) citizen whose actions signify the willful renunciation of her British identity? The lawyers seem to think there are no legal grounds to block her return. 

And look, if we’re obliged to prioritise the “right to a family life” of murderers and illegals who plead that they’ve set up home with a cat, why not a brainwashed abaya-clad Jihadi with a newborn baby and a loving Muslim family back home who are very likely just as ideologically traitorous as their daughter, but have the brains to realise on which side their bread is buttered.

At the time they absconded, the press were keen to emphasise the academic prowess of the three girls. They said they’d been amongst the school’s high flyers. But if she hasn’t even worked out that a tiny bit of contrition would help her case, Shamima Begum seems to be rather thick. Unless it’s a double bluff, and she realises that too much regret would sound a little insincere. 
That shot of a black-gloved hand stroking that one-day-old baby was intensely creepy. 

I find the press’s approach cheap and lazy. I see the whole lot of them as pandering to the baying mob in a particularly cowardly way. This is why. Shamima Begun’s plea for sympathy was not the revelation. The press ignored the most revealing thing she said; they wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole.  
There’s a transcript of the interview with John Sparks on the Sky website.

Did you know what Islamic State were doing when you left for Syria? Because they had beheaded people. There were executions. 
Yeah, I knew about those things and I was okay with it. Because, you know, I started becoming religious just before I left. From what I heard, Islamically that is all allowed. So I was okay with it.

Beheading people is allowed Islamically.   Islamically. That. Is.  Allowed!

If I were a newspaper editor that would be my headline, 4 inches high. Ten centimetres if you like.
But no. They wouldn’t bloody dare. 

Sunday 17 February 2019

A fleeing British teenager

Watching tonight's BBC One early evening news bulletin, I was struck by how it began:
The family of the British teenager who joined the Islamic State group, say she's given birth in Syria. Shamima Begum says she wants to return to the UK, after fleeing the last IS stronghold. It comes as President Trump calls on Britain and other European nations to put captured Islamic State fighters on trial.
Hmm, a "fleeing...British teenager" whose just given birth and who wants to return to the UK? 

Interesting language there, I think. 

And, of course, I'd have said "captured Islamic State terrorists" rather than "captured Islamic State fighters", but that particular BBC linguistic tic has been with us so long you almost don't clock how obsessively 'neutral' it is anymore. 

And on it went:
Good afternoon. The family of Shamima Begum, one of three British school girls who left Britain to join the Islamic State group, say they've been told that she's given birth to a boy. The 19-year-old is living in a refugee camp in northern Syria, after fleeing the last IS stronghold in the eastern part of the country. Her family has asked the British government to help bring her home. It comes as President Trump has called for the UK and other European countries to take back hundreds of members of IS, captured in Syria and Iraq, and to put them on trial. Daniel Sandford reports.
Wonder what viewers new to the story would have made of that?

Anyhow, here's a transcript of Daniel Sandford's report and his subsequent chat with newsreader Tina Daheley. I was struck by how the two featured speakers - and even President Trump! - reinforced the 'bring her home' argument, as did the following BBC-on-BBC discussion:
Daniel Sandford: This morning came news from Shamima Begum's family she's given birth to a baby son in a refugee camp in northern Syria. It adds another layer of complication to the case of the schoolgirl who joined IS and now wants to come back. Shamima Begum first came to attention after leaving her home in East London with two school friends four years ago aged just 15. She married an IS fighter in Raqqa and had remained with the group until fleeing the fighting two weeks ago. Her family are asking the government to show compassion and help them get her home. The government has said that it won't hesitate to prevent people who went to join a terrorist group returning to Britain but concedes that people like Shamima Begum, who have only one nationality, may ultimately be allowed to come back.
Jeremy Wright MP: If you are dealing with a British citizen who wants to return to this country, and not a dual citizen, so their only citizenship is British citizenship, then we are obliged at some stage at least to take them back. That doesn't mean we can't put in place the necessary security measures to monitor their activities and make sure that they are not misbehaving. 
Today, President Trump called on Britain and other European countries to take back people who'd gone to fight for IS and put them on trial. He said 800 fighters had been captured, and if they were to be released, they might permeate Europe, as he put it. Raffaello Pantucci, who has been studying violent Islamists for years, says the government will probably have to shift its position of refusing to accept responsibility for any IS fighters.
Raffaello Pantucci: The UK needs to establish some sort of a process of what to do with its nationals that are out there. I think frankly they are the UK's responsibility and some sort of resolution does need to be established, a due process they can be put through. 
IS's last toehold in Syria, Baghuz, is slowly being reduced to rubble. There is a fledgling project in the UK for handling any women and children of IS who make it from here back to the UK called the Returning Families Project. So far, it's only dealt with a handful of cases and the funding runs out next month.
Tina Daheley: Well, Daniel's here with me now. How has Shamima Begum's baby changed the situation now?
Daniel Sandford: I think in the immediate term it doesn't change the situation. The British government have been fairly clear that they think it is too risky to try and help anybody who's in a refugee camp in northern Syria at the moment and I don't think they feel there's any rush. I think if the situation deteriorates in those refugee camps, very, very, seriously, or if the women and children in those camps are somehow turfed out into the desert the pressure might build. If on the other hand Shamima Begum was to make into to a place of safety like Turkey, for example, and try to make it to the British consulate, the fact she has a very, very newborn baby might force the British government to act a little bit more quickly than they might otherwise have done.
Tina Daheley: And in the case of EU governments, how concerned will they be about Donald Trump's threats?
Daniel Sandford:  Well, Donald Trump seems to be suggesting that the Kurdish allies of the US government and US troops on the ground might actually set free the Isis fighters in captivity. I think that seems unlikely, but I think this is a sign of the pressure that America is going to start applying on the European governments to take some of the IS fighters that have come originally from their countries and are now being held in captivity because certainly the Kurds there don't want to deal with them, the Americans don't want to deal with them, and someone's going to have to handle them and put those that can be put on trial, and otherwise deal with them in a way that they're not a threat to the public. And I think this is a sign of the pressure the Americans are starting to apply rather than a real threat to set them free next week, as it were.
Tina Daheley: Daniel, thank you very much.

Down with the kids

I wasn't greatly surprised to find the BBC and The Guardian being of one mind on those climate-protesting, Mrs-May-effing truants during the Andrew Marr paper review this morning, or that Camilla from the Telegraph was the only one expressing any reservations. Very BBC/Guardian

Anushka Asthana, The Guardian: But can I just say, right, all those politicians who are getting so angry about these kids, anyone with kids - and anyone else - probably knows that the Friday before half term is not an educationally enriching day at school. And one of the most educationally-enriching things kids can do is get involved in political action on the biggest issue and the biggest crisis facing our planet. 
Andrew Marr, BBC: They are right about this.
Anushka Asthana, The Guardian: They're really right. An the idea that politicians - and a lot of them were Conservatives - coming out and saying, well, they're acting truant,  on the Friday before half term, I think totally misses the point. And for a party that needs to attract young people I feel like they should have taken a different attitude. 
Vicky Young, BBC: I was surprised they came out so forcefully. Actually, Cabinet ministers doing that. I was surprised at them doing it. 
Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph: Although you have to make sure the kids are safe. There was an argument to say some of them had been running off to protest and no one knew where they were, which is slightly concerning from a safeguarding... 
Vicky Young, BBC: (interrupting) At least they're engaged!
Andrew Marr, BBC: We are down with the kids - which you can't always say for The Andrew Marr Show

Meanwhile, our old friend DB posted a string of tweets from an effusive BBC politics journalist called Joey D'Urso a couple of days ago. I was about to screengrab them and post them here but Joey has now deleted them. In them he gushed that the protests were "really quite something", that the children skipping school were "righteously angry" and he "doubts they're going away" and, all in all, he said he finds it all "genuinely quite humbling". But, perhaps as a result of DB pointing them out, Joey D'Urso has now sent his opinions down the memory hole. 


And....Friday night's Newsnight saw Katie Razzall (prior to reading out that half-apology to Richard Tice) called the protests "sobering":
Taking to the streets - the young pit themselves against the old, in the interests of the planet. Is climate change becoming the inter-generational battle of our times? It's sobering to see our children walking out of their classes in protest at how they think the grown ups have failed to protect their futures. Is what they're asking of us hopelessly naive, or just brutally true? 

It seems to have dawned on Mr D'Urso at least that it might be questionable in terms of BBC impartiality, but Vicky Young, Andrew Marr and Katie Razzall still seem to think that it's absolutely fine for them to express their support for these protests. 

Is it?

Rooting for Jussie

Yes, I know it's a long post, but.... 👀....

I've been following a series of tweets from DB over the past couple of weeks or so, watching and waiting to see how things develop. Unlike much of the mainstream media, including the BBC, DB was onto how this story was likely pan out from the very start. (It broke on 29 January).

His latest tweet posts a thread on the subject by Amy Curtis that is well worth reading, especially after this 'breaking news':

  • The media won’t ask why, but I will.
  • He did it because he thought he’d get away w/ it. And he was almost right. The media bought it. Hollywood bought it. The left at large bought it. There wasn’t one ounce of skepticism. Not one hard line of questioning. Not one moment to pause before writing/tweeting support.
  • It fit the narrative perfectly. ORANGE MAN BAD. MAGA RACIST. No matter how implausible the story. No matter how ridiculous the circumstances. No matter how perfect. The left bought it. Hook, line, sinker. Jussie Smollett did this because he thought he could get away w/ it.
  • And while the police/DA may not let him (I’m pessimistic they’ll punish him, TBQH), the left won’t hold him accountable. He’ll be excused. “Living under the Trump regime made him do this!”.
  • You want another look at privilege? It’s Jussie Smollett. He used his privilege — his knowing the media/Hollywood would buy his lie without question — to further a political narrative they do desperately want to be true on a wide scale. They *want* more victims of hate crimes.
  • And in that privilege, Jussie Smollett has made it SO MUCH harder for the unprivileged ACTUAL victims of crimes to have their story heard and believed. To have something done to change that hatred when it REALLY happens and REALLY matters.
  • And the people who *should* be most upset about his lies — the supposed, self-appointed firefighter journalists and the leftists who claim to be champions of the little guy (including the Democrat 2020 candidates) — will ignore it. Excuse it. Blame Trump. 
  • They’ll gladly throw real victims under the bus in order to give Jussie Smollet’s false story more weight than it deserves. That’s how much they “care.” About actual hatred. And about actual privilege.

Bearing in mind DB's tweets - including this from yesterday:
Yesterday I pointed out the BBC was trying to encourage sympathy for Jussie Smollett by using just his first name 9 times in one article ( …). Not usual editorial style. I see they've stopped the practice today: …
- I thought I'd review the BBC website's coverage [including a totals per article of the ways Jussie Smollett's name is used].

The BBC News website began reporting the story on 29 January, with a report headlined Jussie Smollett: Empire star victim of suspected hate crime in Chicago. It began, "Police in Chicago say they are investigating a suspected homophobic and racist attack on a star of the US TV drama Empire." 
[Jussie Smollett - 1; Smollett - 4]

Report 2 came on 30 January, headlined Empire's Jussie Smollett: Stars show support after attack. This went through four versions and featured various celebrities reacting on the assumption that the attack was racist and homophobic. The link was made to Donald Trump's campaign. Its final version began:

[Jussie Smollett - 2; Jussie - 2]

Report 3 on 1 February, headlined Jussie Smollett: Police want to question two people over US actor attack, tells us "The suspects are reported to have shouted "racial and homophobic slurs" and Jussie says they referenced MAGA - the slogan Make America Great Again" and features more celebrities saying things like "another brother that has tasted the brutality of hatred and racism and bigotry."
[Jussie Smollett - 1; Jussie - 3]

Report 4, also on 1 February and headlined Jussie Smollett speaks about 'racist and homophobic' attack for first time, begins:

[Jussie Smollett - 1; Jussie - 3]

Report 5, on 3 February, had the headline Empire's Jussie Smollett: I will always stand for love. This began:

[Jussie Smollett - 1; Jussie - 4]

The story then disappeared from the BBC website for twelve days until on 15 February, Report 6 appeared with this headline: Jussie Smollett: 'No evidence' Empire actor attack was staged. This was a piece that sprang to his defence, as you can see from the opening paragraphs:

Go down a bit and you read this:
As time has passed and no progress has been made with the investigation, some have cast doubts about Jussie's version of events.
The article goes into surprisingly little details about those doubts.
[Jussie Smollett - 1; Mr Smollett - 1; Jussie - 9]

Later on the same day came Report 7, headlined Jussie Smollett: Brothers held over 'attack' on Empire actor. This was still on his side, but doubts had evidently begun creeping in:

[Jussie Smollett - 3; Jussie - 1]

With yesterday's Report 8, headlined Jussie Smollett: Suspects held over attack on actor released, the BBC seemed to emit a sigh of relief. This article began:

It's still on his side, isn't it? That said, look at the stats here and spot the change:
[Smollett - 1; Jussie Smollett - 2; Mr Smollett - 1; Jussie - 0]

Today's Report 9 was originally headlined Jussie Smollett 'paid Nigerian brothers to attack him but has now changed to Jussie Smollett had no role in own attack, lawyers say. The BBC are obviously not giving up on Jussie (or their narrative) quite yet. The article, almost conceding defeat, originally read:

But, hope seemingly springing eternal, it now reads:

Version 1: [Smollett - 4; Jussie Smollett - 1; Jussie - 0]
Version 2: [Smollett - 4; Jussie Smollett - 1; Jussie - 0]

So the story continues to unfold and the BBC's reputation (once more) appears to be hanging by a thread. 

Where next for this story?