Tag Archives: Tom Watson

Just for the record: Corbyn can’t resign now

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 31st December 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

I’m probably going to be writing a lot of posts about looking forward in politics and campaigning in the new year.

This post is more of a backwards-looking one.

The Labour Party suffered a horrible defeat on 12th December. In consequence, not only are we going to have a Tory government in Westminster for the next five years (give or take), and Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of that Tory government (a nightmare scenario of Trumpian proportions), and that Tory government has an 80-seat majority giving Boris Johnson the power to do more or less whatever he feels like doing in government – not only all of that, but the UK is going to leave the EU on 31st January and may crash out in no-deal Brexit on 31st December 2020.

Under the circumstances, it is only human to want to find someone or some group of people to blame.
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On the process of political smearing

Labour Leadership 2015I wasn’t planning to write another blogpost on the Labour leadership election. (I hope I’m not going to be starting a lot of blogposts over the next few weeks with that sentence.)

I don’t have a vote because although I’m a member of an affiliated organisation (which has sent me a mailshot about the election) I didn’t register for a vote because I am a member of the Scottish Green Party. So I’m just waiting for 12th September, like everyone else who doesn’t qualify for a vote, which is 99.0472% of the population of the UK.

610,753 people do have a vote, and according to most polls the majority currently plan to vote Jeremy Corbyn.
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No, Boris. No.

For those that need the warning, references to child abuse under the cut.

Boris Johnson sweeps all the concern about child abuse out of the way. The real tragedy, says the Mayor of London, is that for about a week, Alastair McAlpine was being mistakenly named on Twitter as the man who’d raped boys from the Welsh care home, when it wasn’t him, it was probably his cousin, Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991. (Oh, and David Mellor thinks a child abuse survivor is a weirdo and the Daily Mail thinks it appropriate to do one of their hatchet jobs on Steven Messham.)

Boris Johnson: Smearing an innocent man’s name is the real tragedy here:

To call someone a paedophile is to consign them to the lowest circle of hell – and while they are still alive. It follows that you should not call someone a paedophile unless you are pretty sure of your facts. It is utterly incredible that the BBC’s flagship news programme decided to level this poisonous allegation against Lord McAlpine when it had not the slightest evidence to support its case. It was sickening yesterday morning, at 7am, to hear the BBC radio newscaster claim – as if it were some kind of mitigation – that Newsnight did not “name” McAlpine. Is it really claiming that it protected his identity?

How many times will we need to say it?

Alistair McAlpine’s hurt feelings at being mistaken for his cousin, or however it happened that the police told Steven Messham that the man who’d abused him was Lord McAlpine so many years ago, are not a tragedy.
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Justice denied is justice denied

Charlie Beckett writes: George Entwistle is gone but how to rebuild confidence in the BBC? and disturbingly proposes:

The NHS and schools have seen structural revolutions – why not the BBC? It is time for this tired old fortress to be opened up.

Is this crisis going to be the Tory excuse to destroy the BBC as they destroyed the NHS in England?

Steven Messham apologised: Newsnight apologised: George Entwhistle resigned. But who actually set the story going?

According to the Guardian, it was Iain Overton:

As the wine flowed at the Oxford Union, the stage was set for what would soon become a broadcasting disaster. The motion before the undergraduates had been “British politics is in the pocket of the media”, and, in the exhilarated post-debate atmosphere, one dinner-jacketed journalistic insider who had come from London to speak could no longer contain his piece of political gossip.

Iain Overton, head of the small non-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism, said the next evening’s Newsnight was going to expose a top Tory as an abuser of teenage boys at a north Wales care home. According to one of those present, Michael Crick, former Newsnight journalist and now the Channel 4 News political editor, asked: “Do you mean McAlpine?” “Well, you said it,” Overton replied.

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Newsnight will be back on Monday. Probably.

Briefly – for what now seems a very short time – everyone was saying “We must believe the victims.”

Newsnight’s decision not to run an investigative programme about Jimmy Saville, because all they had was his victims’ testimony, was widely criticised.

On Newsnight tonight, instead, was the more usual refrain: Steve Messham was a “fantasist”, and shouldn’t be listened to. Lord McAlpine’s lawyer talked of bringing legal charges against Newsnight and Alistair McAlpine himself issued a comprehensive denial. Newsnight formally apologised, though it’s hard to see what for: they did not name Lord Alistair McAlpine as Messham’s abuser: nor did they hint his identity in any way.

[But see The BBC, Lord McAlpine and Libel Law for how Lord McAlpine might be able to sue the BBC anyway.]

More to the point, Steve Messham says:

at the time police showed him a picture of his abuser but incorrectly told him the man was Lord McAlpine.

Mr Messham told the BBC that he was “mortified” when he recently saw a real picture of Lord McAlpine and realised his mistake.

Newsnight did not name Alistair McAlpine as Steve Messham’s abuser. Steve Messham did not name Lord McAlpine to the media. The only senior Tory named was Sir Peter Morrison, who died in 1995.
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Pseudonymity on the Internet

For those that need the warning, further down this blog I discuss child abuse.

I’ve been thinking about names and Internet privacy since Jeremy Duns asked the internet:

The answer to me is obvious: yes, they are. My personal unfavourite is the Herald, which bans all pseudonymous commenters: the New Statesman, which is just a complete muddle, is probably the next worse. Facebook is problematic, and Google Plus is a cosmic screwup all of its own. Part of that reason is that most computer systems do not handle names very well: see Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.

Jeremy Duns has, fairly enough, got valid reasons to detest people who use multiple pseudonyms on the Internet, aka sockpuppets, which the Urban Dictionary defines as:

An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.

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Filed under Blog Housekeeping, Children, Disability, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff, In The Media, LGBT Equality, Women

The Spam Spiv

David Cameron has appointed Grant Shapps co-chairman of the Conservative Party in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

The Tories have an image problem, you could say. George Osborne was booed tonight by 80,000 people at the Paralympic Games. The Conservatives are widely perceived as the party of arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of a hot pasty or a pint of milk, headed by men who went to Eton and were members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, the government for millionaires by millionaires, the party of tax cuts for the rich and high unemployment, workfare, and lowered wages for everyone else, the coalition of broken promises and NHS privatisation. Indeed, they have an image problem.

The Chairman of the Conservative party is a Cabinet Minister when the Tories are in government, and runs the “party machine”: oversees Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

Grant Shapps is the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield and was Minister of State for Housing & Local Government. Until Monday’s reshuffle. At about one this morning Huffington Post

has learned from senior government sources that Sayeeda Warsi has lost her job as Tory co-chairman and is replaced by Grant Shapps.

We have also been told that Sayeeda Warsi has been offered another seat at the Cabinet table. The role on offer at the time of writing is rumoured to be as a junior Foreign Office minister with a seat at the Cabinet table, a position she has not yet accepted.

Sayeeda Warsi is “not one of us“. She argued last Friday:

“If you look at the demographics, at where we need to be at the next election, we need more people in the North voting for us, more of what they call here ‘blue collar’ workers and I call the white working class. We need more people from urban areas voting for us, more people who are not white and more women.”

But if the Tory party were to believe they need to listen to a woman, who is moreover not white and who comes from a working class, immigrant background, how they have to change to appeal to voters – this would turn the whole ethos of the Tory party upside down.

No, what David Cameron and George Osborne are apt to think they need isn’t some kind of radical policy change: they need a campaign to change their image. They need a marketing man. Grant Shapps has an alternate career: he’s “Michael Green“.

On The Daily Income website, Grant Shapps looks like this:

Michael Green on http://www.thedailyincome.com/michael-green
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