Handy tips: how to get your comment published at Guido’s blog

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15th June 2012

Let me say that I don’t actually subscribe to the view of some that Britain’s best-known blogger Guido Fawkes is a pile of manure. The picture is just visual licence as we bloggers have been entrusted it by the great know-all in internetyland. Guido will understand.

Guido has been a trendsetter in recent years showing the mainstream media how to get news, even ‘scoops’ without being in the mainstream. He has an understandable desire to retain this renegade position and at times is, therefore, inaccurate with the verity even if occasionally unintentionally. That aside, Guido has one major problem: his commenters.

Some of them are probably normal people, but to be honest, I’m yet to be convinced that there are that many. The pressure of his aim in life is such that Guido has a tendency not to monitor comments and I have from time to time had a little moan about some of them. Even some success in having some removed due to the intervention of an understudy of Guido’s. GF himself blocked me on twitter some time ago for some unknown reason.

The talk as the Leveson Inquiry into press/media standards nears its end is of regulation of the internet. That “threat” like every other threat Guido and his followers see every time they open their eyes in the morning is boosted by a general distrust, at least on internetland, of politics and politicians.

Sadly, it is my humble opinion that the way blogs, commenters, tweeps and other social network users often behave would itself be to blame for any regulation. So in an unintended way the civil rightists with instant-glue like determination to rant on about their rights while exercising little responsibility may well have brought regulation on themselves.

More blame for the moral descent of normally acceptable behaviour is to be laid at the feet of the mainstream press, the font of all knowledge information and stuff to twist around and then bash people with.  Lord Justice Leveson now knows this, as many of us have known for years. Although the papers themselves don’t scream (for) blue murder at (of) those with whom they disagree they lay the ‘freedom of speech’ trap for their commenters. And being ‘troof-finders’ the commenters fall straight into it.

So where was I? Oh yes, how to get your comment published at Guido’s, something which I signally failed to do with a recent one of mine. But I’ve worked it out now, just by taking a look at some of the commenters in a recent blog  –

  • First of all you need to be anti-government. Any government, but preferably a Labour one. Or a Tory one when it sounds too European. Lib Dem governments don’t count except when they do and then you have to dismiss them, anyway.
  • Make sure you agree with Guido on the gist of his particular post. He will still publish you some of the time if you disagree, but only if you don’t expose his shortcomings.
  • Make sure you talk loudly about things of which you know little are an undoubted expert, such as the Iraq war, legality or otherwise, decisions made in government re same, and of course who pulls the world’s strings and why. ‘Bilderberg’ is always useful to drop in here.
  • Make sure you bellow even louder about how at least one ‘Labourite’ is now ‘filthy rich’ after office and that by so being he has obviously impoverished the rest of us, while destroying the UK’s moral fabric and the world as we know it.
  • Never agree with any politician unless it’s an anti-European one or Tom Watkins or someone of his ilk. His agenda is the same as yours. And Guido’s.
  • Remember Guido’s is your home-from-home. This is not The Telegraph or even the Daily Mail, where they occasionally expect standards. Well, very occasionally. Think of it as your local pub.
  • Give yourself a good alias, so that others get your all about before you even tap anything out. Samples of this are – Tony Bliar didnt fool me / socialism is a mental illness / The future is NWO / One day one of his bodyguards will do him / and Lordy Mandelscum just stating the bleeding obvious
  • And of course don’t forget that you can suggest killing anyone, as long as he’s not the enemy, as we know it or rather knew it before the internet toddled along and told us all otherwise.

Also be as to-the-point as you like. For instance this kind of comment seldom if ever gets removed at Guido’s:

94 socialism is a mental illness says:

Blair is long overdue for the snipers bullet.

Well? Just a statement of fact! Not incitement or anything.

Then there’s this in reference to the same clearly ‘deserving’ individual:

92 Timothy Lloyd-Davies says:

June 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I pray to God that we see this vile piece of filth hanging by his neck one day!

Well? The commenter IS a religious man.
Then there’s this sort, more wordy so that you can sound ‘informed’ and a clued-up good egg:
62 One day one of his bodyguards will do him says:

Chief Inspectors that refuse to investigate claims of treason, malfeasance in public office, etc.

The HMRC officials that don’t care about shredded receipts, or his off-shore accounts.

The EU that pay him shitloads to ponce about as a peace (oh, the irony) envoy to the ME, the very place he brought war to.

The Humphreys in the the Civil Service, who know where the bodies are buried (possibly literally), yet keep schtum.

Probably the worst offenders in allowing this utterly vile piece of filth to continue breathing are the British public that voted for the twat 3 times, and don’t lynch him on sight now they can see he was nothing but a fraud.

Well? Three times “well”.  You mean you think this might be a touch OTT, with its suggestive alias an’ all? Not to mention the “lynch” bit? No, never. It’s at Guido’s.  It must be right. All of it.

Taranow. Take care.

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‘Tony Blair was right’ – Parts 2 & 3

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13th June 2012

A superfluity of “rightness”

First I noticed this from my friend John Rentoul on twitter:  Hugo Rifkind – “Gordon Brown’s brazen mangling of opinion and fact” or, to get to my point “Things Tony Blair Was Right About”

I used it here yesterday – quote: “the ones he was right about … academies, civil partnerships, the NHS. I shan’t go on because it upsets me, but on Monday it happened again. Because Blair was also right, I now realise, about the failings of the British press. And Brown isn’t.’

But these right things just keep pouring in.

There was this on 7th June Tony Blair was right (Btw, he certainly “meant to”!)

‘Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry, Tony Blair said something quite prescient, though he might not have meant to. “You can’t disagree with anyone in politics now… and the environment in which media and politicians now work is more raw, brutal and crude in terms of interaction.” His sentiments were perfectly emphasised by someone who, of all things, would like least to support an argument made by Blair – David Lawley-Wakelin, the anti-war protestor who breached security at the court and accused the former Prime Minister of war crimes.

Lawley-Wakelin’s tirade epitomises exactly what Blair was talking about – that we can’t simply disagree with the decisions our representatives make, now we have to demonise them. Blair was focusing on what Lord Leveson called the “fusion of news and comment” in the media, but the increasingly polarised nature of British politics has been spilling over into the public arena of protest for some time now.’

And on 10th June there was this referring to Jeremy Vine’s encounter with Tony Blair in 1997, here

Vine was replying to this question:

You worked as a Westminster correspondent for a long time. And you were on the Blair battle-bus in 1997, weren’t you?

‘I interviewed Tony Blair five or six times, but it’s off-air conversations that matter. Once, on the bus, he said: “I like tea” and I said: “I like tea, too” and then he said something like: “I hear you’re a Christian, Jeremy” and I said: “I’m just struggling, you know” and he said: “It’s the most important thing in my life.” And then I said: “Don’t you feel that actually the big stuff like what you’re going to do when you get into power is much less important than the small stuff, which is how you treat your next-door neighbour?” I realised that was a bad analogy because his neighbour was Gordon Brown. But he said: “I completely agree.”‘

Tony Blair, therefore, was also right about another thing: his deeply held religious belief.  It didn’t just manifest itself as a convenient ‘purge to his conscience‘ after Iraq.

Right?

Right.

Any more for any more?

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At the Leveson Inquiry, were they too soft on Tony Blair?

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5th June 2012

There were, in the main, two versions of Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry last week –

  • 1. “He was brilliant, as usual.”
  • 2. “He was despicable, as usual.”

In between there were, to be fairer to the press than some have been to him, some variations.

DOWN TO BUSINESS

Tony Blair at Leveson. Question: Was he thinking – “Hope I’ve got my glasses”? OR -“I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse”?  Answer: Depends who’s writing about him.

SMIRK (NOT) A LOT. YOU’RE ON CANDID CAMERA

As I watched the Leveson Inquiry (see it here am and here pm if you missed it) even I wondered at times if he was being given rather an easy pass. I suppose that’s because I’d like him to be more ‘guns-blazing’, to shut up the antis. This is no criticism of the Inquiry itself.  I’ve never criticised those involved in running the Inquiry or its procedures. Never apart from the other day when I mentioned the young lady on the left in the picture below.  Alone amongst the legal beavers and journalists behind Robert Jay QC she seemed to think an interloper at the Royal Courts of Justice was something to smirk about. I notice she hasn’t been around in that prominent position since then.

Mr Blair, on the other hand, never smirked or even smiled at inappropriate moments as I pointed out in this post. But if he had come out all guns blazing it might allow me some time to get my life back for a start. But enough of this selfishness.

  • He did come out at the Inquiry with the Daily Mail in his sights. For that we can all be grateful.
  • He also came out with reasons why he ‘flirted with’ Murdoch’s press. For that his party can be grateful.
  • He reminded us that he had mentioned much of the Leveson Inquiry’s issues in his feral press speech a couple of weeks before he left office. For that reminder some in the press will not be grateful.
  • He also pointed out that opining does not equal reporting, and that its differentiation has never been required to be made clear in the British press. For that… press… ungrateful etc.
  • He also made it clear that he understands the issues around today’s social media & lies-halfway-round-world-before-truth-boots. For that some semi-informed tweeps may not be so grateful.

In fact there was little in his evidence that could be countered as not being valid or of value.

As to my question – were they too easy on him? Only if you thought he was there to account for and justify the umpteen issues various factions of the press have with him. He wasn’t. He didn’t.

Much of the press couldn’t actually answer Mr Blair’s criticisms. Instead they chose just to pose some questions in quotation form. Yes, we get the innuendo.

If Mr Jay and Sir Brian Leveson treated him as though he were a civilised human being with some life experience rather than a barbarian (as some would have us believe) it is because the legal people are right, and the excessively opinionated wonks are wrong.

Mr Blair had laid out beforehand in his written evidence to the Inquiry most of what he had to say. They had clearly taken much of it onboard. By the time the Inquiry had got around to interviewing the former prime minister they knew much of the bones of the political viewpoint already. His evidence only gave that skeleton some flesh.

Tony Blair’s Witness statement to Leveson prior to his appearance.

Exhibit to Witness statement –  As in The Guardian (London), July 17, 1995 – BLAIR’S NEW LEFT WARNING TO MURDOCH, by Michael White And Christopher Zinn. Excerpt:

“TONY BLAIR warned the high command of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire last night that the Thatcherite free-market policies they espoused in the 1980s had failed to provide the social and economic stability needed to manage the technological revolution they unleash.”

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A Permanent Class Act. Tony Blair, Leveson Inquiry: Miliband And Cameron Should Watch And Learn

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4th June 2012

“We did, however, learn that he’s still got it. Tony dripped class and conducted himself with his characteristic charm and intelligence. Say what you will about his politics, the man is a gifted politician.”

Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, London, Monday 28th May 2012

There are a few points in the article below that the above quote is taken from with which I profoundly disagree, including the three thoughts underlined here –

“His persuasive, mesmeric doublespeak has already led the UK into an illegal war … Blair is great at tricking the public into thinking he’s answered a question…”

Especially when the writer thought that remark so good that he said it twice. It’s actually bad, but who cares about truth when Blair’s name is attached?

I also disagree with this –

“… he revealed a chink in his armour, the flaw in his Teflon coat: He doesn’t like confronting those of a similar level to him.”

I disagree NOT because of the “similar level” silliness but because Tony Blair doesn’t like confrontation per se. He prefers jaw/jaw (oh yes he does!) This non-confrontational tendency has been well-recorded by others in memoirs and even in his own. We’re not all bruisers.

That aside, the piece points to the unmatchable political class that was and still is Tony Blair.

Since we no longer expect our politicians to be upstanding,  everyday, honest, sainted people like that chap and his husband down the road, this analysis suggests to me that we should be willing to settle for the “class” that is Mr Blair like him or love him.  After all, if he is such a charming villain perhaps that’s what we need in this world of charmless sorts. There is clearly not the slightest chance that Ed Miliband or David Cameron could actually emulate Blair successfully. It’d be like asking Baroness Warsi to do a Margaret Thatcher.

More of my own thoughts on Blair at Leveson later, but I think the below worth reading in its entirety. Provisos taken into consideration, of course.

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‘Tony Blair At The Leveson Enquiry: Miliband And Cameron Should Watch And Learn’

By Tom McArthur. Source Sabotage Times

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The jazz hands, confidence and diversionary tactics Tony Blair displayed at the Leveson shows that, while you may not agree with his politics, you have to admire his charisma.

Within 30 minutes of sitting down at the Leveson Inquiry, Tony Blair had the whole room eating out of the palm of his hand and had listed all his achievements whilst he was in government. He even managed a couple of sly digs at the Daily Mail. It is also worth noting that no other witness has, so far, had the court laughing along with his quips.

That is how you do it. Never forget that Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a lawyer by trade and possesses a sharp mind. Are you watching David Cameron? This man is a professional and showed the world that form is temporary but class, regardless of what you think of his politics, is permanent.

He arrived to give evidence about the British media, but was soon talking about hospitals and schools, all intelligent frowns and knowing smiles. It was a master class in public speaking. He acknowledged that the relationship between politics and the media had grown to cosy over the years, but smoothly implied that this had always been the case. Blair also admitted that he had made a ’strategic decision’ not to tackle the issue on his watch.

Why? He said to take on the modern press barons would’ve cost too much: ‘The price you paid for that would actually push out a lot of the things that I cared more about’.

This man is a professional and showed the world that form is temporary but class, regardless of what you think of his politics, is permanent.

What we witnessed today in Court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice was a master class from a statesman and purveyor of political persuasion the likes of which we haven’t seen since he handed power to Gordon Brown. There is no-one quite like Tony.

But wait: Let’s not get caught in the hype of Tony Blair. Not again. His persuasive, mesmeric doublespeak has already led the UK into an illegal war, as his rather animated heckler reminded us. Blair is great at tricking the public into thinking he’s answered a question, but a cursory check of the transcript or Hansard proves that he didn’t. You get a feeling that he’s as sincere as Jessica Ennis is fat.

His comments are punctuated with classic, “you-know’s” and “frankly’s” and diversionary hand gestures that appeared to be spontaneous, but on inspection were very cautious and non-committal. He assured the inquiry that there were no insidious deals with Murdoch, and his cabinet had not changed policy to appease the Digger.

By admitting that he had decided to “manage, not confront” the unhealthy relationship that the media had with politicians, he revealed a chink in his armour, the flaw in his Teflon coat: He doesn’t like confronting those of a similar level to him. Perhaps even his earlier swipes at the Daily Mail were an attempt to divert some attention away from Murdoch to a weaker foe. Arguably, all his problems with Gordon Brown stem from his unwillingness to deal with the man’s dissent early on in his leadership instead of letting Brown cause the mayhem he ultimately did.

Blair is great at tricking the public into thinking he’s answered a question, but a cursory check of the transcript or Hansard proves that he didn’t.

He didn’t quite come out and say he was a personal friend of Rupert, and he was very careful not to do so. He paid lip-service to the “appalling things” that happened in Murdoch’s empire, which we can reasonably assume to include allegations of phone hacking, bribery, intimidation and the corruption police officers. Blair said, in reasonable tone, that these things were only one part of News International’s apparently ‘laudable’ work in the UK.

By the lunchtime recess, and after taking a heckler in his stride (Well played for using the live feed to refute David Lawley-Wakelin’s accusations there-and-then, Tony) the longest serving Labour prime minister had achieved his aim of not incriminating himself.

When the hearing resumed after the break, those of us who have seen more of Robert Jay than we care to admit, anticipated a broadside from the cunning Queen’s Counsel. It was always in the afternoon session when he previously delivered his most devastating salvos.

But we were left disappointed. After less than an hour of uncharacteristically indirect questioning it was over. Lord Leveson waffled on again – “throwing ideas about” in his own words – on possible ways to regulate the press in the future and then with muted thanks and one last shark-smile, Tony Blair left the courtroom.

Those watching, hoping for revelation from Mr Blair were left deflated and reporters referred back to their notebooks and Dictaphones to see if he had said anything at all. We did, however, learn that he’s still got it. Tony dripped class and conducted himself with his characteristic charm and intelligence. Say what you will about his politics, the man is a gifted politician. He even managed to deliver a cracking little soundbite with the memorable line, “You begin at your least capable and most popular, and you end at your least popular and most capable.”

Blair has aged well; a subtle tan and greying hair gave him an air of a victorious Caesar returning to Rome to answer questions on a controversial campaign on the frontier. Compare this measured statesman to the pasty and quick to anger ‘Flashman’ Cameron or the Aardman animation-looks of Miliband and you begin to feel a pang of nostalgia for the Brit Pop and optimism of early New Labour.

Neither Jay nor the protester Lawley-Wakelin laid a glove on Blair and he knew it. The closest anybody got to hitting him with anything was the bloke who pelted his car with an egg as it pulled away from The Strand.

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In fact, if you care about such incidentals as ‘facts’, the eggman only managed to hit the car behind Blair’s.

That’s what usually happens to anything or anyone following the unequalled Tony Blair. And don’t they know it?

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Tony Blair audition at Leveson Productions. Lie – halfway round world – truth – boots on

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3rd June 2012

Thought I’d better catch up on some of my thoughts regarding The Master’s glowing audition at the only show in town – Leveson, My Part In Their Downfall.

The would-be bit parter, looking for a big breakthrough, seemed to have the waiting audience/directors/producer warmed-up, primed and waiting for him to shine. His reputation had travelled before him. But anyway we knew all that. The papers told us if we didn’t. So before any more detailed analysis of content and context, a little word to the good people at DayLife.

I found the picture above at their excellent site, unfortunately with this accompanying caption:

‘A still image from broadcast footage shows Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair reacting after a protester disrupted his testimony at the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media at the High Court in London May 28, 2012.’

Although I’m sure it wasn’t intended to mislead, the caption attached reminded me how ‘a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on’. (source)

We also know that a picture paints a thousand words.

TWENTY SECONDS OF FAME INFAMY

The intruder/protester burst in on the proceedings, accompanied by an as yet unexplained clunking noise, at 15:27 into the video below.

By 15:47 the “war criminal” accuser had said his piece. Between the spoiler’s bundling offstage by a few burly stagehands and the picture shown above, there was this –

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At 16:09 a shocked Leveson reacted:

LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: I’m sorry for that, Mr Blair. I’d like to find out how this gentleman managed to access the court through what is supposed to be a secure corridor. I’ll have an investigation undertaken about that immediately.  I apologise.

TONY BLAIR:  That’s fine. Can I just say, actually, on the record, what he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely and totally untrue. I have never had a discussion with them about that or any relationship between them and Iraq.

LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: You’re entitled to say what you want, but you should not feel it necessary to answer somebody else’s points.

TONY BLAIR: No, I appreciate that, but part of the difficulty actually with modern politics — and I say this not as a criticism of the media — is that my experience of the reporting of these events is that you can have 1,000 people in a room and someone gets up and shouts or throws something. That’s the news. The other 999 might as well not have bothered turning up. But anyway, we were back in —

[THIS IS WHERE, WHEN & WHY MR BLAIR SMILED. At 17:22 he smiled at the fact that the barrister could resume his questioning. Not as a sort of dismissive comment on the intruder.]

MR JAY: We were back in 1997.

TONY BLAIR: Right.

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The above transcript excerpt was taken from the Leveson Inquiry website, transcript, morning session, 28th May. Pages 86-87.

To describe this still-shot of the TV coverage as his “reacting” is misleading. His actual reaction to the intruder was calm. He had his elbow on the table and his hand on his chin throughout the disturbance and remained serious but unperturbed. Most definitely not smiling in reaction to the incident itself.

To say that this smile was “reacting after a protester disrupted his testimony” is to imply “and look what he thought of that man’s protest. What arrogance!”

The reason I have spent some time detailing the timings of these few minutes is that it is important that we get the full facts, in words and pictures. As Tony Blair himself said “That’s the news”.
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Next – a cross-post. A pointer to other would-be thespians on the world stage.

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Excuse Me. We’re Missing The Mood Music

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29th May 2012

Update: The Guardian reports that Leveson has passed the Tony Blair protester case to the director of public prosecutions 

DANCING AROUND THE POINT OF THE ‘EXCUSE ME’

An ever-so-polite protester was restrained by security – eventually – as Tony Blair testified at the Leveson inquiry yesterday.

Yesterday a self-righteous individual with a “beef” wormed his way “easily” into the Royal Courts of Justice. He emerged from behind a startled Brian Leveson the judge who is leading the inquiry into the British media. The beefed-up one then stood a few metres away from this country’s former prime minister and politely shouted to him and the dumbstruck assembled “Excuse me!”

He yelled a few other things too. The sort of ice-breaking, meaningless chit-chat you make towards new, transient partners in the knowledge that you’re not expected to consummate the relationship. It took less than half a minute to spew out the ‘do you come here oftens?’

Then he pulled out a gun and shot dead The Judge, the Prize Witness and the Leading Barrister. Oh and the young legal beaver woman behind the barrister, even though she had clearly been enthralled by the enticing merry dance. 

[Would someone advise this young “legal person” (below on left) one doesn’t smirk tellingly when one’s judicial hearing is interrupted, especially when it is being shown live to the world? (See first few seconds into video.)]

CHANGE PARTNERS, PLEASE

Of course, this last bit didn’t happen. No-one died.

But they could have. THAT’S the point. And the social-media mood music which congratulates someone for having the contempt to gatecrash a judicial hearing encourages future have-a-goers. Encouraged even more by the fact that this man is not to be charged after his excuse-me jiggery-pokery.

I’m not taking a swipe at the security of the Leveson Inquiry court-room, though there are clearly issues.  Brian Leveson is quite capable of doing that. A few moments after the jig ended and the jigger had been juggled off, Leveson set up an immediate inquiry as to how the intruder had worked his way in through the judge’s personal entrance into court.

My reprimand is towards all those today echoing the mood music yesterday on twitter: “All Hail the Conquering Hero”

Those who would no doubt be excusing and supporting a certain David Lawley-Wakelin even louder if the Leveson Inquiry had found itself today one judge short of a merry dance or the country had noticed it was one former prime minister short of a foursome reel.

Change partners. Thank you. Time for a new dance.

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Longer version of the incident –

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(Re-published) Police – The State We’re In. Leveson/Press/Politicians

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21st May 2012

I just found the below in my archives and thought I should re-publish it. It is a compilation of some posts at this blog from January to November 2007, a particularly hot time for Tony Blair and his colleagues. Its contents may have some relevance today as Peter Mandelson made it clear at the Leveson Inquiry that he believes John Yates personally leaked information to the press as the Cash for Honours debacle of an investigation did its worst. (Most recent at top.) I’ve noticed that some of the links below no longer work. Interesting that.

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16th November 2007

A few quick updates:

1. The Met continues to have its worries over whether or not another Blair should be given the chop! Sir Ian Blair, Met Commissioner, following the Jean de Menezes affair. He shouldn’t go. Like the other Blair, we need him.

2. And, the Cash For Honours fiasco cost the taxpayer almost one and a half million pounds!

3. And Jonathan Evans, Head of MI5 is telling us what the politicians, in hock to the liberal press and the inner-city Muslim vote, are afraid to tell us. We are under long and short-term threat from jihadist brainwashers.

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26th Sep, 2007: Updated link:tb_19july03_kelly.jpg

John Humphrys interview of Tony Blair, February 2nd 2007. “I’m not going to beg for my character”. [Note: This audio link may not work. BBC loses things! See transcript here]

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Friday 20th July, 2007

IT’S OVER, MR BLAIR

As I write the CPS have made their official announcements on the ending of this ‘cash for peerages’ inquiry. So THIS time the leakers were on the ball. I expect it genuinely HAS ended. Should bl***y well think so too.

“Insufficient evidence” it seems, according to some in the press. Sounds unlikely and inaccurate reporting that. Couldn’t be, could it, from our trustworthy press?

GB/PM seems to want to draw a line under all of Tony Blair’s time in office, or perhaps a line THROUGH Blair’s time in office! In April 2007 the file went from the Met to the CPS. Mr Blair was questioned again, for a third term but not under caution, so he was never likely to be charged.

To be fair to the police, this £1,000,000+ inquiry, once it had started, was bound to go on until it had reached a conclusion. Whether they were wise to pursue this particularly high-profile inquiry I’m sure they will be wondering.

The bottom line to me has been that some kind of quid pro quo has been the norm for centuries as regards peerages. In the absence of full public political funding, and people do NOT seem to want to pay for democracy through taxes, that is to be expected.

Was it an SNP-inspired political stunt as Tony McNulty insists? Possibly. If so it was irresponsible, since Angus MacNeil should have known that it could have brought down a Prime Minister and a whole government. And this was the government that had already made changes in party funding and in Lords reform – not BECAUSE of SNP allegations, but well BEFORE that.

“Why is nothing going to happen after ALL this time, paperwork and money?” said Angus Robinson, of the SNP.

You might well ask.

This government – hardly the worst abusers of all time.

HOW DAMAGING?

We will have to wait to see; but suffice it to say that the usual climate is that politicians are not trusted by many at the best of times.

The “whiter than white” hopes of Tony Blair on coming into Downing Street were a rod for his own back, of course. But it is shameful that he goes down in history as the ONLY sitting prime minister ever to have been questioned by the police. And not just once, but three times.

It’s been damaging – VERY damaging. And for me, losing my trusted prime minister under this cloud has made me question the propriety of the Scottish Nationalist party, the Press and even the Police.

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Sunday 29th April, 2007

BEWARE Yates, warns Palace

Following the Paul Burrell case on the late Princess Diana’s artefacts, an inquiry investigated by Assistant Commissioner John Yates, The Observer reveals that Buckingham Palace was severely rattled by Yates’s approach.

It is understood the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin told Jonathan Powell, the PM’s Chief of Staff, that they were unhappy with Yates’s “dogged approach” during the Burrell investigation. Powell was told that John Yates turned the royal household inside out during the Burrell affair.

Yates’s handling of the investigation that led to the trial of Paul Burrell, the former butler to the late Diana, Princess of Wales on charges that he stole some of her property, angered the Palace. The Palace felt badly bruised by the trial, which collapsed in 2002 after the Queen recalled a conversation with Burrell in which he said he was keeping some of the princess’s effects.A well-placed source claimed: ‘Jonathan was told Yates is a menace.’

Number 10 has probably realised that. In fact we have all been told that Yates is terrier-like in his tenacity. That’s been interpreted as a “good thing”; someone not intimidated by anyone at the top of government, even the PM. Someone who was “just following the leads”.

But Yates lost the Burrell case after all that work. And there is nothing quite so grizzly as a terrier with a bone in its mouth, who has had it removed – not just once, but twice.

One day we might ask if Yates was the right one to pursue the cash-for-honours investigation at all.

  • Was he able to distance himself objectively from the failure in the Burrell case after the last-minute high-level recollection by the Queen, whereupon the case collapsed?
  • Would he have been determined to compensate for that earlier failure?
  • For instance, were his interviews of the Prime Minister to make sure that Mr Blair would be less likely to recall something at the last minute to throw the whole case?
  • In other words would his investigations be fair and proportionate as well as thorough?

I expect one day we’ll hear something about how Downing Street was turned upside down by Yates’s men in the great Quest for Truth and Justice that will go down in history as –

  • *Tony Blair – First Prime Minister Questioned by Police – and TWICE*

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Thursday 26th April, 2007

Tracing The Leak – Wet Fingers?

Today the word is out that Scotland Yard itself, or members of, might have been leaking on the Birmingham terror event. And the Home Secretary has denied in a letter that anything was leaked from his department. So the Conservatives might have been running their fingers along the wrong pipework, going for the Government yesterday in Parliament. Today David Cameron is trying to make mileage out of the fact that Tony Blair said “no” to Cameron’s demand into an inquiry into this. What else is he going to say? “Yes, OK”? A week before the local elections? Come on, Mr Cameron. We can see right through you.

As I have said before, the leakers are not all necessarily in the government. The police and press are equally likely to be culpable. After Mr Blair goes, the next PM will have greater motivation and fewer constraints to getting to the bottom of this tripartite and powerful relationship. With the cash-for-honours nonsense still ongoing, and elections in the air, this is not the time.

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Wednesday 25th April, 2007

DAC Peter Clarke is complaining about leaks around the January Birmingham case, where several were arrested but as yet, no-one has been charged. The implication being drawn is that someone connected to the government is the leaker. Whether that is what he meant to imply, only he knows, and he has said he implied nothing. But it does make me wonder; if, as he says, the leak “endangered life” why, if these men (or the leak) were so dangerous, hasn’t someone been charged with the Birmingham “beheading video”? Can’t have it both ways. They were either dangerous or innocent.

Who is distracting whom here. It’s bad enough that the opposition parties are using this for electoral advantage at this time, but worse still if the police are using it to cover up their inability to progress with charges against these “dangerous'” men. Hhmm..mm

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Thursday 15th March, 2007

Inspector Yates today implied that he is going to go on and on, with no time limit on his inquiry. So that’s that then. Shut up and do as you’re told, the British government. You know who’s in charge. Click here for latest news

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Friday 9th March, 2007

Who Runs This Joint?

Well, it’s not QUITE a police state, but I’m still very concerned about the length of time they have taken to find “villains” in this destructive inquiry. Perhaps there aren’t any! At last MPs are beginning to raise this question. What kept them? Who runs this joint anyway? It seems they wish Inspector Yates to appear before their committee. Having suspended their own inquiry into the cash-for-honours issue last May, they, like the rest of us, had a right to expect that the police would have dismissed or got to the bottom of this by now. And now the Met, and particularly Yates, are getting desperate. And desperate men are not the most reliable.

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Sunday, 4th March, 2007

Following the Attorney General’s injunction to the BBC to prevent the broadcast of a ‘cash-for-honours” report, speculation is rife as to how long before charges are brought, on what and against whom. It seems the police are unhappy about “leaking” of e-mail information which, it seems, they hold as evidence against members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle.

Three questions come to my mind.

1 Do the police know for sure and without reasonable doubt that No 10 was leaking to the BBC?

2 How did No 10 know about this imminent police angle on the e-mail? Is it a recent development or long-standing?

3 Could this be a police ‘double bluff’ – with the police doing the leaking but blaming it on No 10? If the police suspect the e-mail evidence to be too flimsy to hold up, it is not beyond imagination that they are attempting to spread unfounded rumours of No 10 dirty tricks. Then No 10, or those associated, might be tempted to incriminate themselves, so breaking SOME law or other. The police know you use a sprat to catch a mackerel. And while I’m in this metaphorical mode, as someone once said, “you must lose a fly to catch a trout”.

Remember, the injunction is still in place, so every party is (presumably) gagged. Does that apply to the police too?

Powers of Arrest – Citizen’s Arrest

I’ve been thinking about this powers of arrest business, both from the police point of view and from the angle of a “citizen’s arrest” arising from this page.

When the honours suspects were arrested I couldn’t quite see why they needed to be arrested at all. And this BBC website seems to confirm that it was a bit over-the-top in the cases of those particular individuals, as they were hardly likely to abscond! But, it seems that the police have wide powers of arrest, though you could have fooled some of us, when we watch some criminals being cautioned gently rather than arrested. The BBC site says:

“In reality, this means that the police have almost unlimited powers of arrest if they choose to exercise it. Unless you are carrying some kind of identity card, any offence could be regarded as arrestable.”

So, if they all had identity cards, and so could have confirmed their identity, perhaps they would not have been arrested!? I don’t think so somehow. The reason for the arrests had less to do with identification than with making some sort of statement, in my humble opinion.tb1.jpg

The “citizen’s arrest” is something else which has aroused my interest. A BNP member’s website, from which I have quoted here, seems to be hinting at this legal process. (At least I THINK that’s what it’s hinting at!)

“To paraphrase another serial killer, George W. Bush, if we can’t bring Tony Blair to justice, we must bring justice to Tony Blair.”

Citizen’s Arrest – as on the BBC site

The police are not the only people with the power to make an arrest. Although there have been some highly publicised cases which suggest the power of the individual citizen is strictly limited, the law still recognises a citizen’s arrest. So a member of the public may arrest someone who is committing an arrestable offence such as theft or assault, or suspects that such an offence has been committed. They are allowed to use reasonable force in doing so.

What exactly is “reasonable force”? And is a citizen’s arrest limited to such as “theft or assault”, presumably in which someone is caught red-handed? If so, the Conspirators on this page, with their ideas of justice, can put their ‘cuffs away . By the way, how many “citizens’ arrests” are made annually in this country? If you have any idea, please let me know.

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Thursday 8th February, 2007

All leaks sorted! Wonder if the plumber will need to be called again any time soon?

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Tuesday 6th February, 2007

The CPS has said there is insufficient evidence to press charges on Des Smith, the headteacher questioned by police at the beginning of the whole sorry business.

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Monday 5th February, 2007

Leaks, leaks and yet more leaks. Somebody has a retention problem! The Times is today’s villain of the piece.

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Saturday 4th February, 2007

Iain Duncan Smith has gone up in my estimation. On Radio 4’s “Any Questions” he had the audacity to question the Police’s handling of this inquiry focusing so heavily as it has done, on the Prime Minister. Glad to see one member of parliament not afraid to raise his head above the parapet.At some stage in the future, perhaps we can expect more of this reasonable reaction from others. Come to think of it – I think that blond, mad but likable Tory – Boris Johnson said something about the length of time it is all taking on Andrew Neil’s sofa politics programme last night. You know, the one with Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott – This Week(?)So there you are then. I’m not the only one who’s noticed this police treatment of the PM as though he is beneath the law and can be treated any way, any how. So far the complainants have both been Conservatives! What’s going on here? Would they like Mr Blair to take over their party. Replace the Clone with Tone?

Friday 2nd February, 2007pm-sweden.jpg

The police have released a statement backing up the Prime Minister’s stated reasons for the news blackout over his interview last Friday. It was at police request and for operational reasons.  The Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying:

“The prime minister has been interviewed briefly to clarify points emerging from the ongoing investigation. He was interviewed as a witness, not as a suspect and co-operated fully.

“We requested the meeting was kept confidential for operational reasons. We are not prepared to discuss further.”

And in an interview with John Humphrys on Radio 4’s “Today” programme the PM touched on some of the questions of his authority raised by the continuing inquiry as well as on matters of policy which he would like to complete before his time in office is over.

Video & Audio Reports

Update to this – added 26 September, 2007.

This Humphrys interview below seems to have disappeared from the web! If anyone has a copy please let me know. In the meantime, listen to this report by the BBC’s Mark Sanders on the issue.

Radio 4 Interview with John Humphrys – Audio (27m 33s)

JH – “You could say, ‘I’m going to put an end to it’ … and then it wouldn’t be about Tony Blair the Prime Minister, would it? That’s the point. Why not stand down now?”

PM – “It’s not a very democratic way to decide who the prime minister is …”

JH – “You’ve already decided that, you’ve said that you’re going.” So why not stand down – why not put an end to it all?”

PM – “Because I don’t think that’s the right way to do it and I think it would be particularly wrong to do it before the inquiry has run its course … so you’ll have to put up with me a bit longer”.

——————————————————————————

BBC News Video clip – Mark Sanders (1min 41sec)

TB – “I’m not going to beg for my character in front of anyone”.

MS – “Mr Blair blames the media for making a meal out of the affair”.blair_300×3880.jpg


Thursday 1st February, 2007

BLACKOUT Order by Police

The PM’s second interview as a witness is now public knowledge. The interview took place last Friday, four days before that of Lord Levy. It is important that we understand that Scotland Yard insisted that the interview was to be kept secret until today for “operational reasons”. This blackout was not the Government’s or the Prime Minister’s choice. In fact, it seems that very few people knew about the interview, most of the PM’s staff included.

Now I know the political climate is such that NOTHING concerning the PM is taken at face value. But if the Police made this confidential request, which they have confirmed today, Mr Blair can take none of the blame for this withholding of information. The press are making much of this, as you might expect. They feel their noses out of joint. They criticise the fact that the PM’s official spokesman did not tell them anything at the daily press briefings (though it is clear that he was also kept behind the Police blackout order). If the Police wanted knowledge of the interview kept back “for operational reasons” and they were subsequently “completely satisfied” with Mr Blair’s co-operation, the resultant press furore is perhaps evidence that even the Police realise the damage their extensive and extended inquiry is causing through news commentary.

As to whether the goings-on have any underlying purpose from the Police’s viewpoint, I think the jury, no pun intended, is still out. I was expecting to read a statement by the Police as mentioned on No 10’s website today, but have as yet been unable to find one on The Met’s website, or elsewhere. Are the Police preparing the ground for an announcement that there will be no charges? Newsnight tonight raised this viewpoint as “from sources”. If so, their arguments could follow this line:“We interviewed the PM as a witness in December and then, tbquestioned(since the damage had already been done to his reputation – [though I doubt if that was a concern of theirs] ) again last Friday. Our questions have been answered satisfactorily. The other chief suspects in this investigations have also answered all of our questions. We have done all we can and will provide the CPS with our (limited) information. It is then in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if there is a case to answer. Our investigation can no longer be accused of interfering with the smooth running of government.

Click here to read more of my musings on the police handling of this investigation which has repercussions for all of us, not just those in the glare of the media spotlight.

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Wednesday 31st January, 2007

No 10 Call For Media Restraint

Media (and presumably Police) expression of opinion has been called upon to restrain its opinion and comment in the light of the fact that those under the spotlight are unable to defend themselves.

Since I am one of the few who speak out in support of the government’s position I will happily go along with this, as soon as others do. In any case I do not have the readership of the dailies! At the moment I receive dozens of e-mail alerts from those convinced of pm/government guilt with each arrest or development. This includes national newspaper reports from anti-war / anti-Blair papers as well as bloggers and media reports on leaked snippets from Scotland Yard.

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POLICE INQUIRIES – Terrorist Plots & Cash For Honours

Our police are the best in the world. I believe that implicitly and unreservedly. It still amazes many that we have an unarmed force (largely) in this day and age.

Sterling work is going on this morning in the Birmingham terror raids. Earlier today a security specialist commented on the news that the eight arrested might have been looking at different terror tactics than the usual bombings.

Since then the police have asked for restraint in speculation and analysis at this early stage. Fat chance of that! Perhaps police leaking of honour snippets is resulting in their protestations being largely ignored.

The earlier suggestion by SkyNews’s security specialist of, for example, political assassination, seems to be inaccurate. But the suspected plan of kidnapping a young Muslim soldier, possibly murdering him and then posting this act on the internet is still about as political as it gets!

And co-incidentally, Mr Blair’s historic announcement of elections in Northern Ireland in March, after ten years of work to secure peace, was all but overshadowed yesterday by Lord Levy’s arrest. A bitter-sweet moment then for Mr Blair, and some backing for my thoughts on the present undermining of real politics by the relentless focus on No 10.

Here comes the “but” …

But, while the Police are protecting us all against terrorism there is some justification for wondering what judgement is compelling Scotland Yard to pursue so relentlessly this country’s government. Even if there is ever proved to be a case to answer, even a charge of “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”, a much more serious criminal charge than the original inquiry focus, who does this drawn-out pursuit serve in the real interests of justice in this country?

Unless digging up the gardens at No 10 proves differently, this is a “victimless” crime. Is Yates of the Yard’s quest to show himself as “purer than pure” in his “… just following all the leads…” approach impeding his better judgement?

The reason I ask is that regardless of the particular party involved, and I am not a member of any party, it is our government and not just our governing party which is in danger of being seriously undermined or even collapse if this investigation drags out much longer.

John Yates, who is supposed to be above politics, has shown himself a dab hand at the political/pr spin business too. This morning a pre-recorded interview was used by the Radio 4 Today programme. Pre-recorded – thus no questions could be asked of him. Pre-recorded – when? Presumably in the full knowledge that Lord Levy would have been arrested by the time of the broadcast. In the meantime the Prime Minister, the Government and No 10 staff are unable to comment, for obvious reasons. No pre-recorded statements, leaks or running commentary for them as this story unfolds.

Nick Robinson remarked today that “rarely has Tony Blair been so unable to control events“. Smirkingly satisfying to some that might be. But I’d prefer to know that our elected government, whose day will come soon enough in the ballot box, are in control of the Police rather than the other way round. That’s why we elect them.

Yes, I realise the Police are stuck between the proverbials; damned if they do, damned if they don’t. But having started the whole investigation, perhaps unwisely, they either have enough proof to sustain their original suspicions or enough proof to push charges on a cover-up to those suspicions. It is time the CPS cast its eye over the Police evidence. Even if the CPS decides not to press charges, Inspector Yates will almost definitely have managed to secure long overdue changes to the country’s system of honours. Not a bad legacy for a policeman. And with the damage already added to Mr Blair’s legacy by this ongoing business, and considering Yates’ length of service in post, the Inspector’s mark on politics may compare favourably to the perceived legacy of the Prime Minister. Unjust? I think so.

It is time we permitted the government to get on with its job. Character assassinations by implication and threats of further arrests do not serve any of us well.

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