Archive for ‘Spectator’

February 14, 2014

Why are Rupert Murdoch’s men damning Andrew Mitchell?

If you want to picture Rupert Murdoch imagine an old man on a tight rope. On the one hand, his newspapers must pursue his interests – say that everyone but the rich must pay the price of austerity, for instance. But as he wobbles over the void, Murdoch must also balance his rather brutal class interest with populist attacks on ‘the elite’ to assure readers of modest means that he is, despite everything, ‘on their side’.

Normally the Murdoch press can stay upright by confining itself to savaging the liberal elite, which to be fair, never fails to provide him with a rich choice of targets. But every now again it feasts on blue blood.

The Times – which is becoming a tabloid in content as well as form these days – has been saying in essence that Andrew Mitchell was guilty of calling a Downing Street police officer a ‘fucking pleb’.

Carry on reading

February 4, 2014

How to murder a writer

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Far fewer writers than you would imagine worry about online hate campaigns, let alone think that they could one day end up in danger like Hannah’s luckless victim. When newspapers first began publishing anonymous abuse under articles seven years or eight ago, I thought journalists would see it as an attempt by managers to undermine their increasingly casualised work forces, and fight back. At the very least, I assumed that women journalists would resign and sue employers who had published sexist insults under their copy for constructive dismissal; or that the National Union of Journalists would demand that publishers remove the coward’s cloak of anonymity, and say that commentators must find the courage to write under their own names.

Nothing of the sort has happened: and not only because at national level the NUJ is one of the worst led unions in Britain. Most journalists are like Hannah’s, Damon Blundy. They don’t care what people say about them online, for reasons which are largely good, and worth following yourself.

Read the whole thing

January 17, 2014

In Iain Duncan Smith’s world no good deed can go unpunished

Last night I went to hear Chris Mould of the Trussell Trust speak at my local church. The scene appeared to confirm every myth Tories tell about themselves.

Though it does not make a great noise about it, the Trust represents the Anglican conscience at its active best. On their own, without state support or any of those nanny bureaucracies the right so deplores, the churches have organised more than 400 distribution centres to provide emergency food aid to desperate people. The men and women, who check that clients are truly in need, and hand out food, nappies and sanitary towels, are volunteers, motivated by a concern for others rather than money or recognition. They are a social service as well as the last line of defence against hunger. They try to sort out their clients’ problems with landlords or the Department of Work and Pensions, whose minions appear to view the arbitrary treatment of the needy as a useful way of keeping down costs. The public donates virtually all the emergency supplies- an act of spontaneous generosity that deserves more recognition. Think about it. Hundreds of thousands of people have responded to the social crisis Channel 4 will not report by freely giving at collection points at schools and supermarkets. On two days in July, shoppers were inspired by an appeal by Tesco – which is not the monster of anti-corporate fantasy – to donate 3.5 million meals.

Carry on reading

December 24, 2013

Once rich daddies bought their daughters ponies now they buy them newspaper columns

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I’m sorry, Mumsnet charges writers and actors or their publishers and producers for the privilege of providing content for its website? I shouldn’t have been shocked. The logical next step after asking writers to write for nothing because they get valuable ‘exposure’ is to demand that they pay for their valuable exposure


Read the whole thing

December 12, 2013

The segregation of women and the appeasement of bigotry at Britain’s universities (Part Two)

Protests against Universities UK guidelines on gender segregation

On the Today programme this morning Justin Webb covered the decision by Universities UK to allow fundamentalist speakers to segregate women from men at public meetings.

With a characteristic disdain for accepted standards of behaviour, Universities UK refused to go on air and answer his questions. Webb had to ‘put the other side of the story’ himself.

Carry on reading

November 27, 2013

Religious maniacs, communist maniacs and allegations of slavery

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Like the whiff of a mouldy madeleine, the statement by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) on the expulsion of Comrade Balakrishnan takes you back to a time that is well worth forgetting.

‘Balakrishnan and his clique were suspended from the Party because of their pursuance of conspiratorial and splittist activities and because of their spreading social fascist slanders against the Party and the proletarian movement,’ it read.

The churn of Dalek denunciations can only have come from one time and place – the Marxisant left of the 1970s.

Carry on reading..

November 23, 2013

The Right’s attitude to radical Islam is as bad as the Left’s

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Whenever a heresy-hunting left-winger fixes me with an accusatory glare and demands to know how can I talk to ‘someone like that’ (the ‘someone’ in question being a right-wing object of righteous denunciation) I reply, ‘I’m a journalist and will talk to anyone – even you.’

Still, I like to have a choice. I did not have one when I was sitting on a platform discussing Silent Conquest – a film about the ‘Muslim’ destruction of free speech in Europe and North America. I was uneasy about what I had seen, and became more irritable when the organisers announced a surprise guest, Tommy Robinson, formerly of the English Defence League.

Carry on reading

November 8, 2013

Why can’t we admit we’re scared of Islamism?

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Let’s face it — we only challenge religions that won’t hurt us, and governments that won’t arrest us

Firoozeh Bazrafkan is frightened of nothing. Five foot tall, 31 years old, and so thin you think a puff of wind could blow her away, she still has the courage to be a truly radical artist and challenge those who might hurt her. She fights for women’s rights and intellectual freedom, and her background means her fight has to be directed against radical Islam. As a Danish citizen, she saw journalists go into hiding and mobs attack her country’s embassies.

Now read on

November 4, 2013

Celebrity rapists: The case of “Sir” Cyril Smith

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When confronted with irrefutable evidence that one of the most famous MPs in his party’s history had abused dozens of boys, how would you expect a leader to respond? Nick Clegg said in September that he was “shocked and horrified” by the case Channel 4′s Dispatches had gathered against Sir Cyril Smith. Its journalists showed that the 29-stone Liberal member for Rochdale had raped and abused from the 1960s to the 1980s, while hiding behind the persona of a comedy northerner. Clegg’s outraged tone was an advance on the eulogy he gave when his grotesque colleague did the world a favour by dropping dead in 2010. “Everyone in Rochdale truly adored him,” Clegg said then. “This really was a larger than life figure and he will be sorely, sorely missed.”

Alas, the sadder and wiser Clegg spoiled his retraction by adding that he wanted the police to carry out a thorough investigation into Smith. He should have known that the police had carried out an investigation years ago. He should have known that in 1979 a few good journalists on the Rochdale Alternative Press and Private Eye had exposed how the authorities had done nothing…

Carry on reading

October 25, 2013

With crime rates plunging, the police are pouncing on innocents instead — and attacking freedom

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Just before the hacking scandal broke, the Sun sent a young and by all accounts decent reporter to meet a woman who said she had a story — a ‘walk-in’ as we call them in the trade.

The walk-in produced a phone and said the Sun would want to take a look. One picture on it showed the face of a much-loved TV presenter. The rest of the celeb’s body was more lustful than lovable, however, as he was exposing his member in triumphant fashion. Accompanying the picture was a lot of explicit sex talk. The phone looked as if it belonged to the star’s mistress, and the very famous and very married presenter had been sending her pornographic ‘selfies’ and sex texts to remind her of the joys that awaited her when they next met.

The reporter took the phone. Contrary to received wisdom, tabloid hacks are not all monsters. He told the Sun’s lawyer he suspected his contact had stolen the phone. He and the lawyers killed the story. He gave the phone back to the walk-in. Later the police arrested and cautioned her under the Theft Act, and returned the phone to its rightful owner.

That seemed to be that. The reporter moved on to another job as a foreign correspondent in the States. The petty thief had only a tiny mark on her criminal record that hardly anyone would know about. The celebrity continued to keep his sex life private.

It was as if nothing had happened, until three years later in 2012 the police arrested the reporter

Carry on reading

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