Saturday, 19 August 2017

Are we done with Sarah Champion?

When “former race tsar” Trevor Phillips spoke out “On abuse it's time to call a spade a spade” it caused a mere ripple. Did his words carry less weight that Sarah Champion’s?

What about Trevor Kavanagh? The backlash from his “Islamophobic” piece in the Sun mainly concerned his ‘extremely poor choice of words’. His critics felt “The Muslim Problem” sounded a little too much like “The Jewish Question” and by implication, well, everyone knows how that ended up.

Sarah Champion has received much publicity, mainly praise and support, for what turned out to be a short-lived bout of truth-telling. Her subsequent apology for her ‘extremely poor choice of words’ and resignation from her post in the Labour Party (did she jump or was she pushed) was equally welcomed and derided. 
Is she weak for caving in or was she strong for speaking out? We who will not be divided, are divided.

I thought we were done with Sarah Champion, but no.  The affair still simmers. People who agreed with what she said in the Sun  are still praising her for having the courage to speak out, despite her subsequent resignation and, if I may say so, imprecise apology. Exactly which words were the extremely poor choice? All of them? We should be told.

Most people assume she was silenced by Jeremy Corbyn, but 'they would say that wouldn’t they' because they choose to see her as a political martyr rather than a vacillating self-publicist. 

For the record, I too agree with what she said in the Sun and I don’t doubt that Jeremy Corbyn welcomed her resignation and probably encouraged it, yet I still see her as a vacillating attention-seeking self publicist.  I’ll just have to accept that if it takes a vacillating, attention-seeking self-publicist to initiate a taboo-busting debate about the relationship between Islam and ‘British values’ I’ll have to lump it. But I don’t much like it.

Sarah Champion’s initial fifteen minutes of fame came about via the documentary ‘Inside the commons.” The cameras followed her rushing eagerly round the HoC learning the ropes and getting to grips with being a new MP. She was entertainingly portrayed as energetic and driven; ready willing and able to ‘do good’. Fantastic free publicity for the brand.

I repeat, many people agreed with her Sun piece; it was about time someone came out with it, and as she herself said in the Sun:
“British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it”.
Or did she? Not quite sure - later she was to claim it was the Sun wot wrote it. Maybe the Sun fiddled with the original content, who knows, (they deny it) but assuming she did write, in the body of the piece:
“There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

No-one who has seen her on YouTube castigating Israel over ‘the Palestine issue’ and telling an audience of Pakistani men just how passionate she was about the Palestinians could accuse Sarah Champion of being an Islamophobe. The video was so good I posted it twice. I thought it was remarkable, partly because of the inappropriate way she was 'exercising her right to bare arms' and almost flirtatiously flaunting her ‘immodesty’.  Goodness knows why she would do that, when simply denouncing Israel would have been enough to guarantee unanimous support from that particular audience - some sort of committee of local councillors. Rotherham folk.
Her disgust for Israel was peppered with references to herself:  “to me” or “for me”- a habit that surely begs a psychological diagnosis. 

Even if the only MP  brave enough to say so is an attention-seeking opportunist, the truth is that there are issues (as Jeremy Corbyn might or might not put it) with British Pakistani men and underage white girls. 
Of course the term  ‘Pakistani men’ is a euphemistic one. It’s an improvement on the  BBC’s default ‘Asian men’, but technically inaccurate since the perpetrators in the Newcastle case were not solely British Pakistanis; some originated from elsewhere; the elephant in the room is their religious/cultural  backgrounds. They’re Muslims.

If Sarah Champion was genuinely brave, she might have called them ‘Muslim men’, but either way, be it Pakistani men or Muslim men, it did turn out to be an ’extremely poor choice of words’, or extremely unwise words from an MP whose constituents are predominantly Pakistani and Muslim.

Shortly after expressing pleasure at the way the Sun presented her article, she rowed back, claiming the Sun had fiddled with it, apologised for the article and promptly resigned as ‘Shadow Secretary of State for women and equalities’.

If you’ve got that feeling of deja vu all over again but are wondering why, it’s probably because Sarah Champion has form when it comes to resigning when she sees fit. 
For example, when she thought Jeremy Corbyn was unelectable, she quit  - and when that particular bandwagon appeared to be hurtling off piste she ‘unresigned’ again, resuming her post as  “Labour’s domestic violence spokesperson” (officially “Shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence) first-hand experience, evidently, qualifying her for the post, though her role as perpetrator rather than victim would ordinarily seem something of a drawback. 

Because of my dismay at Sarah Champion’s shameless sucking up to antisemites (call me paranoid) I have probably monitored her roller coaster political journey with more interest than absolutley necessary, and I know I judge her negatively / see her through a negative prism and so on.

However, praising her courage for speaking out, and for ‘saying the unsayable’ is easy. For one thing it provides cheap ammunition against Jeremy Corbyn - as if more of that was needed.
It’s just a pity that there was so little praise for the courage of people whose words can genuinely be taken at face value on the numerous occasions they have spoken out and said ‘what Sarah Champion said’. 

Can one unequivocally praise Sarah Champion for her courage without her track record diminishing the impact of her words? Former MP Denis McShane believes so, for example.  Accuracy may not have been Denis McShane’s priority; for example he wrote: 
“My plea was triggered by a young South Yorkshire Muslim, groomed by British-based Islamists, who blew himself up in Tel Aviv in a failed terrorist mission.” 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but was he referring to the 2003  terrorist Omar Khan Shariff who I understand hailed from Derby?

In 2004 Denis McShane was a Foreign Office minister representing the same Rotherham seat where Sarah Champion is a presently “hard-working Labour MP”, and he believes she was badly let down and harshly treated by her political masters. Here is a passage from his Times article:
“No one came to me when I was an MP to speak about the awful sex crimes committed against local children by groups of men whose family roots lay, as is the case with much of the British Pakistani community, in rural Kashmir.”

Read on for more of his thoughts about the incredibly difficult question of sexuality in the Pakistani Kashmiri community.
However, according to Mr McShane, he learnt about the situation  in 2012, “when years of failure by Rotherham’s child-protection authorities to act against known abuse gangs” was exposed by “painstaking journalism” in The Times. 
But Sarah Champion was MP for Rotherham at the height of the abuse. To quote from an earlier article about Denis McShane in the Telegraph  “I was too much of a ‘liberal leftie’ and should have done more to investigate child abuse”.  

Surely if Denis McShane felt he should have done more to ‘burrow into’ the problem then, it might have occurred to him that Sarah Champion could also have done some burrowing, or that she appeared positively blinkered by showing far more concern about Palestinian children than about what was being done ‘right now’, by Muslim men to children under her nose. Did no-one at all in Rotherham raise the matter with their MP while all this was happening?  

I still see Sarah Champion as opportunistic, vacillating and irresolute, but her antics have attracted publicity to  the malevolence of Corbyn’s Labour Party and that’s almost enough to forgive her for everything. Almost.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


Goodness me. What is going on?  

Is this the end of the story


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Open Thread

This isn't how I remember Tom and Jerry:
In the meantime, please post any thoughts about BBC bias below as usual. And thank you.


I read a tweet last night:

Well yes. Here's something I saw cited at B-BBC:

I assumed the B-BBC link would take me to a blog-post by someone like the ever-righteous Katty Kay or the ever-sarcastic Anthony Zurcher - BBC journalists who appear to have carte blanche to be as opinionated as they like (for some reason) despite that whole 'BBC impartiality' thing - but no, the link took me to a bog-standard, byline-free BBC report instead.

So even bog-standard, byline-free BBC reports about President Trump now read as if they are blog posts by opinionated BBC journalists.

(Ed - Shock horror! As if that's really something new!)

Laura Bicker

Those self-same BBC types have been going into a frenzied overdrive against Donald Trump after what the BBC's Laura Bicker (on BBC One's main news bulletin) called his "failure" to denounce white supremacists for yesterday's violence in Charlottesville. 

I happen to agree with Laura there. I think it was a "failure" too.

That said, I'm entitled to express my opinions. I'm not a supposedly impartial BBC journalist. She is.

Yes, President Trump should have specifically slagged off the neo-Nazis, whilst acknowledging that, yes, the violence did initially come in roughly equal amounts from both sides until the neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of protesters from the other side, killing a woman and injuring many more, of course - something which changed that equation considerably.

Slagging off people who bellow Nazi slogans ("Blood and soil"), give Nazi salutes (and yes they did give Nazi salutes!), spew antisemitic chants, march with torches, and tell black women to their face to 'go home' (complete with swear words), etc, is something a democrat ought to be happy to do - indeed consider it their duty to do (whilst simultaneously granting their right to free speech).


Back to the BBC though...

I'd challenge anyone who wishes to be considered fair-minded or objective to read any of the following Twitter feeds and then say that these BBC journalists are tweeting and re-tweeting as neutral, disinterested, purely objective reporters: Laura Bicker, Anthony Zurcher, Nick Bryant, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson, Hugh Sykes, and Katty Kay.

Each and every one of them expressed (or 're-expressed') strong opinions galore there, and all of them said (or 're-expressed) pretty much the same things. They've been anything but impartial on Twitter.

Is this BBC groupthink in action? Of course, but shouldn't the BBC, which ought to promote democracy, be taking sides against neo-Nazis? Isn't it their duty to promote and protect democracy at the expense of totalitarians of all shades? So isn't this 'good' BBC groupthink?

Yes, of course, the hardcore 'antifa' types are deeply violent and have strong anti-democratic strains too, and it's significant (and predictable) that their violence, despite being much more pervasive, isn't dwelt on by the BBC anywhere near as much...

...but still Donald Trump should have distanced himself from the neo-Nazis - and questioning why he appeared to go all 'Jeremy Corbyn' by criticising violence from "all sides" (quite right actually) without adding that he personally abhors white supremacists (and any other shade of modern-day Nazi) and wants nothing to do with them, is surely appropriate questioning, isn't it?

Well yes, if it doesn't go beyond questioning into outright editorialising.

How fine a line is that?

Heather Heyer

As I wrote earlier, until a white supremacist terrorist, aping Europe's Muslim terrorists, repeatedly rammed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman (Heather Heyer) and injuring many others, the equation of violence at yesterday's 'alt-right' rally in Charlottesville appears to have been fairly evenly spread between the fascists and the anti-fascists - both sides brawling, and clubbing each other, and chucking pepper spray.

A lot of the BBC's early reporting, from what I saw of it, acknowledged that in passing.

Only later did reports like Joel Gunter's begin appearing on the BBC website, painting a different picture of largely one-sided violence (from the violent far-right against peaceful anti-fascist protesters who, according to Joel, only threw bottles and chucked pepper spray).

And then came the terrorist attack from James Fields Jr.

Joel was a candle in the wind. By this evening any sense that the 'antifa' crowd had any violent intentions has vanished - if the reporting I'm seeing on the BBC News Channel is anything to go by. And it was all Democrats (not that the BBC report itself declared any of them as such):
Newsreader: One of the organisers of Saturday's far-right rally in the U.S. city of Charlottesville that resulted in a woman being killed by a car has been forced to abandon a media briefing following protests. Meanwhile the White House defended President Trump after it was claimed he didn't go far enough in condemning violence by white supremacists. Our North America correspondent. Laura Bicker reports.
Laura Bicker: After a violent day of division, Charlottesville has come together to pray, to show that this city condemns the hate brought here by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The Virginia governor went from row to row, hugging worshippers in this Baptist church. He promised to keep politics out of the pulpit, but there is a message he felt he had to give:
Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia (Democrat): It is about politics in that the political rhetoric in this country today is breeding bigotry.
Laura Bicker: The streets here simmered with tension yesterday before finally erupting into violence, as white supremacists gathered for a rally. The group, which included members of the Klu Klux Klan, said they wanted to take America back. Counter-protesters and anti-racism activists challenged them. Police tried to disperse the crowd but this day was not to end peacefully. A car, at speed, rammed into protesters. Shocked witnesses captured the aftermath. The crash killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who'd fought racism all her adult life. Many others are still being treated in hospital. Those who captured the scene on camera said they were not shocked the day ended in tragedy. The police have charged a 20-year-old James Alex Fields Junior with second-degree murder.
Brennan Gilmore (former Democrat aide): The Nazis who came to town yesterday clearly had the intent of causing violence. You don't come to town with shields and helmets and weapons and have a militia with automatic or semiautomatic weapons around their shoulders if you are here to peacefully express an opinion.
Laura BickerOthers, who have lived here all their lives, say the scenes do not represent Charlottesville, and they want politicians to challenge those responsible.
Dr. Wes Bellamy, Charlottesville deputy mayor (Democrat): It is important to call these people what they are - white supremacists. I don't understand why that is so difficult, that is what they are. They're not hiding this behind a statue, they didn't come here because of a statue, they came here because just as David Duke said yesterday, they came here to fulfil the promise of President Trump and take their country back.
Laura Bicker: This city did not want bigotry on its streets. Its people now want to remember those who died trying to challenge it and to keep the peace. Laura Bicker, BBC News.

(Is this a coherent post? Answers on a postcard to the comments thread below.)

A word from Anne Marie Waters's would-be stylist

The BBC is making a fuss about Anne Marie Waters being selected as a potential UKIP leader. To be fair, so are several other channels. 
In case you haven’t heard of her, she’s the Islamophobic Irish lesbian who once said Islam is evil. How very dare she say such an audacious thing. 
Anne Marie joins Tommy Robinson as one of the MSM’s pantomime hate-figures and just as Robinson is forever tied to the discredited EDL, AMW will always be inextricably linked to the one particular ‘stranded soundbite’ of a millstone. 

There is of course much more than that to AMW’s opposition to Islam, and the way she is currently being presented by the media says more about them than about her.  I’ve never voted UKIP by the way, principally (amongst other reasons) because it’s so amateurish. But then, which party isn’t at the moment. 

There are ten other (may I say obscure) candidates of whom no-one has ever heard. The exception is Peter Whittle who’s supposed to be the strong favourite to win, but if I may opine on the matter, I don’t think he has the presence to lead a party. He’s a nice man, but no.

For that reason alone Anne Marie Waters might stand a chance of making UKIP great again. With a bit of work, UKIP could be the anti-Islam Party as well as the party that exists to keep a watchful eye on Brexit.

Mike Hookem strongly disagrees with Anne Marie Waters

MEP Mike Hookem - (yes, the very same Hookem who lived up to his name by flooring former UKIP leadership contender Stephen Woolfe and hospitalising him; whereupon he (Woolfe) withdrew, not only from the leadership contest but from UKIP itself)  - Hookem has resigned in a self-sacrificial gesture of protest. (Although, won't all enraged UK MEPs  be out of a job soon?)

The BBC tells us “Former leader Nigel Farage has warned that UKIP will be "finished" if it becomes an anti-Islam party.” To me, UKIP looks just as “finished” if it doesn’t.

The media is making such a big deal out of this, partly because it’s the silly season and, apart from imminent nuclear armageddon, there’s not much going on. AMW’s eligibility to stand hardly seems uniquely controversial, given that Paul Nuttall stood on a platform of a ‘burka ban’, a policy that seems like more of a provocation than a grown-up, properly thought-through political strategy. I’d strongly advise AMW to drop that one; it’s too confrontational, too soon.  

Googling from the starting point that Anne Marie was a one-time prospective Labour candidate - and a lot of Waters have crossed that bridge since then - I came across Socialist Unity website circa 2013. Andy Newman’s article “Anne Marie Waters - the worst possible potential Labour PPC” indicates that he wasn’t too keen on the idea.  Do have a butchers.
Looking at the hard left’s impassioned defence of all things Islamic with one’s retrospective specs on, one can’t help wondering if those sycophantic, philo-Islamic sentiments are wearing at all thin with those particular authors.  Having witnessed terrorism, mass Muslim immigration, ISIS, Syria, grooming gangs and all the rest of it, I’d hope their attitude towards the matter is somewhat more thoughtful now.  At any rate, as trends go, I imagine an older and wiser general public is presently slightly more inclined to sympathise with AMW than with the Socialist Unity circa 2013. 

Here’s a theory. When many people voted ‘Leave’, Islam was very much at the back of their minds. It was forcibly driven back there for fear of being branded racist. “Suppress those bad thoughts!”
The acceptable, non-racist  justification for opposing free movement and mass immigration was “Numbers”.  “No room! We’re full! Eastern European immigrants, Polish plumbers, Bulgarian fruit pickers. They’re taking our  jobs/ housing /schools /hospitals.” But underlying all this rationalising was the (verboten ) fear of creeping Islamification.

In truth, the driving force behind the victory for “Leave’ was the awareness that continued membership of the EU meant mass Muslim migration was ‘coming your way’. Fear of non-Muslim EU immigration was the pretext. Displacement on a grand scale.

How about that, then? Feel free to disagree, as Craig is apt to say.

Maybe we’re not yet ready for an openly anti-Islam UKIP, but maybe one day we’ll have to be. 
Big smile

If I were advising AMW ( I don’t know why she hasn’t asked me yet) I’d say if you are serious about your leadership bid, you need to consider your image. If other politicians have to do so, then so should you. Rather than present yourself as an “I don’t care what I look like” lesbian, you might take a leaf out of the Ruth Davidson book. Get a decent haircut, a hint of lipstick and a tailored jacket. You can be smart and still be butch. Work on that troubled look. Big smile. 
Don’t think of Jeremy Corbyn as a sartorial role model. Even he has been known to dress to impress.
There. That’s my advice. Sexist and old fashioned, that’s me. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

When Jacob met James

News of James Chapman’s proposed new party, imaginatively called the Democrats, has been floating around for a day or so, but it was this morning’s performance on the Today Programme which set the www. buzzing. Guido has the sound clip. The BBC saw fit to introduce its customary balance by inviting the unflappable Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg into the studio as well.

I suspect listeners were more impressed by the ferocity of Mr. Chapman's interruptions and his somewhat hysterical delivery than by his message, which was roughly that:

  • He has several supporters or sympathisers including 7 ministers, including 2 cabinet members.
  • The Tory brand is damaged and can never again be elected. 
  • A Hard Brexit will make Black Wednesday look like a picnic. 
  • 60% of the Tory Party are/were for Remain.
  • The gap in the centre leaves people politically homeless.
  • We were sold a pack of lies during the referendum campaign.
  • Where is the £350?
  • Brexit is undeliverable and will be disastrous to the economy.
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has captured my party.

Jacob Rees-Mogg managed:

  • The democratic process.
  • Undermining the democratic process.
  • The will of the people.

Anyway, one of the most un self-aware remarks one is likely to ever hear was John Humphrys saying indignantly  “Let him finish his sentence!”

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Misogyny: Pakistani style

Newcastle Grooming Gang

Is Sarah Champion as opportunistic as she looks? It seems like only yesterday that we were looking at the video of Ms Champion in her constituency (Rotherham) giving an impassioned speech to some sort of committee, mainly consisting of Pakistani gentlemen. A council meeting or something. Ms Champion was demanding that Israel must immediately stop slaughtering Palestinian children. Under the circumstances it seemed quite odd that she was sitting at the head of the table with a disconcerting amount of bare flesh on show. I mean, tut tut. A little modesty, surely.  
Condemning Israel must have seemed the most  appropriate way to serve the interests of her constituents at that time.

When the Pakistani grooming cases were coming to light, Rotherham in particular having occurred under her nose apparently without her noticing, Ms Champion switched her attention from the children of Gaza to the children in her own constituency and became the people’s Champion, with the welfare of children 'closer to home' as her area of special interest.

On the Today programme, having courageously announced that the latest scandal concerned mainly Pakistani men, she thought it was time someone did a study to find out what is going on. Are these cultural issues? Why are we not commissioning research to see what’s going on?

“Do we need the research?” asked Humph. “We know what’s going on.”

“We don’t know why it’s going on though” countered Ms. Champion as if she hadn’t seen any of the headlines that screamed: “ NEWCASTLE GROOMING GANG ‘White women are good only for people like me to use as trash’ "

Of course the BBC has been playing its usual tricks with this story, trying to make the main issue about the police using a convicted child abuser and rapist as an informer, and paying him a tidy sum for doing so.  I’d say it’s pretty obvious to (almost) everyone but the BBC that in this particular case the end (very probably) justified the means. (I don't want to stick my neck out here because I don't know all the facts) but this unfortunate side issue shouldn't be allowed to eclipse the main story.

The only thing ‘new’ is the fact that people are naming ‘Pakistani’ rather than Asian. This might seem like progress, were it not for the fact that people are reminding each other that some of the infamous 17 were from countries other than Pakistan. No-one has so far mentioned anything else that the men might have in common.

Poor Ms Champion is losing sleep over it. “because I know every time I talk about it the level of Islamophobia increases.” Hmm. Since no-one has specifically mentioned the religion of peace, why should that be?

Another Sara (without the H) was interviewed towards the end of the Today programme. Speaking to John Humphrys were the real life heroine of BBC one’s “Three Girls” dramatisation of the Rochdale sex abuse case, (played in the drama by Maxine Peake) health worker Sara Rowbottom, and Nazmin Akhtar, vice chair of the Muslim Women’s Expert (.....when it’s at home.) 

Rochdale Grooming Gang

The one common factor, opined the latter, is that the perpetrators are all men, targeting women. This is about misogyny, and nothing to do with you know what.

You absolutely couldn’t make it up.